Local pharmacies get involved in vaccine rollout

Pharmacist Shawn Sorensen gives a COVID-19 vaccine shot to Robert Jensen of Gunnison, one of the first recipients at Gunnison Market Pharmacy.

Three months into distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Sanpete County, two local pharmacies have joined the effort.

Last week, the Central Utah Public Health Department (CUPHD) assigned 100 doses of the new, single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the Gunnison Market Pharmacy and 100 doses to Terrel’s Pharmacy.

“They went pretty fast,” said Shawn Sorensen, Gunnison Market pharmacist. All 100 doses that went to his pharmacy were used within the week.

Terrel’s Pharmacy also filled all of its 100 initial appointments quickly, pharmacist Roger Peterson said.

Both pharmacists said they were told to expect weekly shipments of 100 Johnson & Johnson doses. But the shipments have been delayed.

           Registration for future appointments is closed at both pharmacies for now. Gunnison Market Pharmacy will honor about 60 appointments that were scheduled before the shipment delay.

Both pharmacists said their establishments plan to offer COVID-19 shots regularly and indefinitely as soon as shipments resume.

“As long as they keep sending us doses, we’ll keep giving them to people,” Peterson said.

“It’s just a matter of waiting for [the CUPHD] to send them to us,” a technician at Gunnison Family Pharmacy said.

“We are waiting to hear when. Unfortunately we don’t know exactly when that’s going to be,” said a pharmacy representative at the Ephraim Walmart.

For now, Sorensen, the Gunnison Market pharmacist, advised people who want to get vaccinated to preregister through the CUPHD (www.centralutahpublichealth.org). The health department sponsors weekly clinics in Gunnison, Manti and Mt. Pleasant weekly. He said people could also look into visiting a clinic in Nephi.

Last week, Gov. Spencer Cox declared people 50 years and older eligible to receive vaccines. Prior to the announcement, eligibility was limited to people 65 years and older, long-term care facility staff and residents, first responders, K-12 teachers, school staff and people ages 16 and older with certain underlying medical conditions.

Sanpete County was one of the counties in Utah that recently changed from a “high” transmission-risk classification to “moderate.” This means the local 7-day positivity rate in COVID-19 tests is between 5.1 and 9.9 percent, and the rate of active cases per 100,000 people is between 101 and 325. The “high” category means a county’s positivity rate is 10 percent or greater and/or the case rate is 325 people or more per 100,000.

Also required for a county to be in the “moderate” category, the utilization rates of local hospitals’ ICU units and COVID-19-specific ICU units must not exceed 71.9 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively.