The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare published a timeline for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 29.
According to a press release, distribution will roll out in phases over the next five months, dependent on the amount of the vaccine and the number of Idahoans who decide to be vaccinated.
“We are following the priorities that were established by the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee at the state level,” said Maggie Mann, Southeastern Idaho Public Health Director in an interview with Scroll. “(We’re) working our way down through those priorities…to make sure those populations are being offered the vaccine and that anybody who wants it within those priority groups is able to receive it.”
Phase 1a began Dec. 17, which included healthcare personal and long-term care facility residents, the committee stated.
Phase 1b will begin in February. It will include adults 75 years of age or older and essential workers such as first responders, food processing workers, Idaho National Guard, correctional and detention facility staff, grocery and convenience store workers and school staff such as teachers and daycare workers, the committee reported.
In April, adults 65 years of age or older, people aged 16-64 years with medical conditions and other essential workers will receive the vaccine, the Department of Health announced.
Southeastern Idaho Public Health currently works with hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities to determine where the vaccine will be distributed.
“We are also working with local pharmacies and Health West which is our federally qualified health center,” Mann said.
As of Monday, SIPH opened a form on their website, allowing individuals to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine information. An individual or a facility may fill out the form, marking if they fall into a priority group. Once the vaccine is available, they will get an email providing vaccine locations.
SIPH will review each application.
“It’s not like reserving vaccine for them, but it is putting them on a notification list so that when their priority group comes up, they can know what their options are to get the vaccine,” Mann said.
According to the Department of Health, once the vaccine is available to a priority group, it is expected to be available at normal vaccination locations such as with employers, at physician’s offices, local public health districts, or local pharmacies.
Potential side effects of the vaccine can include soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches, and body aches that usually go away within 24 hours, a press release said.
“It’s not clear yet if this is a vaccine that (is) a two-dose series and done, or if it is going to be something we need to do every 10 years, or every five years, or every three years, or every year,” Mann explained. “We just haven’t had enough time to evaluate that yet.”
There have currently been 19,569 vaccine doses administered in Idaho, according to the Department of Health.
According to a press release, the COVID-19 vaccine will not likely be offered to the general public until May.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the department of health urges social distancing with at least six feet between individuals, wearing face coverings in public, washing hands, disinfecting surfaces and objects regularly, and staying at home if sick.
For questions, call SIPH’s COVID-19 hotline number at (208) 234-5875, open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.