A health care professional organizes a tray of COVID-19 vaccine vials. (Getty Images)
It’s the most closely watched vaccine rollout in Idaho memory. The first tiny vials of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in a small shipment in mid-December. Since then, more than 33% of Idaho adults have received at least one shot, according to federal data. And among the most vulnerable age group — 65 and older — that number is rapidly approaching 71%.
All Idahoans age 16 and older become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. And in the Central District Health region of Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties, everyone age 16 and older became eligible Tuesday afternoon, when CDH announced its decision to push up the timeline.
“A significant increase in state vaccine allocated to CDH’s region combined with vaccine received by some providers through federal sources has boosted the volume of available vaccine in the four counties served by CDH,” the Boise-based public health department said. “Recent conversations with vaccine providers to assess vaccine supply and appointment demand indicate adequate vaccine doses and appointment availability among providers, particularly major health care systems.”
Southeastern Idaho Public Health — which covers Bannock, Bingham, Butte, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida and Power counties — also announced Tuesday anyone 16 and older is now eligible for a vaccine in that health district. Earlier this month, the Panhandle and North Central Idaho health districts also opened eligibility to anyone 16 and older.
Right now, all Idahoans age 16 and older are already eligible for the vaccine if they work or live in Idaho in certain high-risk settings or have common conditions that put them at greater risk of severe disease. (The list of conditions applies to many Idahoans, such as those with high blood pressure or diabetes, who are overweight or obese, and even former smokers.)
Health officials expect an initial rush of demand from Idahoans who have been waiting their turn for vaccination. That early frenzy could cause bottlenecks, as happened in February, when Idahoans age 65 and older became eligible. But health care leaders hope the more than 80,000 first doses arriving in Idaho each week will make any bottleneck manageable and short-lived.
They hope Idahoans will defy history and choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Idaho has among the lowest rates in the U.S. of flu shots — less than 50% in some years. Higher rates of immunization are necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
So, here’s what to know if it’s your turn.
How do you start the process?
Contact your regular doctor or nurse practitioner, if you have one. If you don’t have a primary care provider, you can sign up through urgent care clinics, health care systems or local pharmacies.
Idaho’s seven public health districts have COVID-19 hotlines, where local staff can help you find answers to your questions. They can also help direct you to the best place to look for a vaccine appointment.
If you can’t or don’t want to spend time hunting for a shot, you can use the Idaho COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system set up by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. More than 100,000 people have signed up through the system, and tens of thousands of them have already been contacted by health care providers to make appointments for available doses.
In addition, the Crush The Curve Idaho nonprofit regularly updates a database of vaccine availability in each of Idaho’s regions. Choose your region on the Crush The Curve website to see what is available near you.
Crush The Curve and individual health care providers and pharmacies also are maintaining “no waste” waiting lists, so you can ask to be added to those lists to get a last-minute dose.
Sign up online for COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Boise area
Here’s where to sign up for appointments with the Boise area’s largest health care providers and pharmacies:
Saint Alphonsus Health System: http://www.saintalphonsus.org/getvaccinated
St. Luke’s Health System: https://www.stlukesonline.org/health-services/service-groups/covid-resources/covid-vaccine-information
Primary Health Medical Group: https://www.primaryhealth.com/coronavirus-covid-19
Saltzer Health: https://saltzerhealth.com/coronavirus/
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