Gem State Roundup

Idaho’s COVID-19 vaccinations have fallen to their lowest since January

By: - May 25, 2021 5:32 pm
Emily, 12, gets the Pfizer vaccine from a nurse at a Primary Health Medical Group clinic in the Treasure Valley

Emily, 12, gets the Pfizer vaccine from a nurse at a Primary Health Medical Group clinic in the Treasure Valley on May 12, 2021. (Courtesy of Primary Health Medical Group)

The number of people in Idaho receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has fallen to its lowest level since winter, when vaccines were limited to only certain groups of Idahoans.

The state’s coronavirus vaccine dashboard shows that Idaho’s uptake peaked earlier this spring, when health care providers were vaccinating 9,000 to 11,000 Idahoans per day in March and April.

That number fell to about 2,000 to 3,000 per day and has stayed there since mid-May.

“As the traditional school year comes to a close, over the next couple of weeks, it remains our goal that schools can return to normal operations in the fall,” said Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen at a media briefing Tuesday.

“We encourage parents to strongly consider choosing to vaccinate your children 12 years and older,” he said. “Doing so before school starts in the fall will greatly increase the chances that school can return to normal.”

The slowdown has left Idaho with an abundance of vaccine doses. The state currently has nine weeks’ worth of COVID-19 vaccine supply. The slowdown also is despite pharmacies and clinics adding walk-in hours; the state allowing anyone age 12 and up to get the vaccine regardless of residency or work status; and grant-funded mobile vaccination clinics going out to underserved and rural communities.

Idaho’s overall vaccination rate is far below the state’s goal of 80%, with only 44% of the state’s population age 12 and up getting vaccinated so far. That is below the national average of about 59%.

Vaccination rates among Idahoans age 65 and older are inching closer to the 80% goal that public health officials hoped to reach by June. About 75% of those older Idahoans now have at least one dose of the vaccine. Division of Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch said Tuesday that “we’re very hopeful we’ll be able to achieve that (80% goal) through some of the efforts we have going on.”

Idaho vaccine uptake charts

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Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, radio journalism, data visualization and much more. Her resume also includes fellowships from the Association of Health Care Journalists, Idaho Press Club, Idaho Media Initiative and Investigative Reporters and Editors. Dutton also teaches an upper-division journalism course at Boise State University. She resides in Boise with her husband, young daughter and two cats.