Idaho officials update COVID-19 vaccination qualifications for residents

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State health officials held a media briefing on Feb. 23 to report the progress of the COVID-19 vaccination distribution and authorization throughout Idaho.

Officials addressed why the health districts now require proof of residency and occupation in the state of Idaho. Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen explained during the briefing that Idaho chose to change due to other state regulations that have prioritization restrictions, causing residents of other states to flood to Idaho for the vaccine. Nearly 4,800 vaccinations have been administered to residents of other states that neither work nor live in Idaho. The link to the briefing and information was given to Scroll through the Department of Health and Welfare.

Jeppesen said the required documents accepted are intended to be a wide variety so as not to be a barrier for residents to receive the vaccine. It is only in place to ensure that Idaho residents are vaccinated.

The Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is currently in the process of authorization. However, health officials cannot recommend or predict which groups will be authorized for the vaccine.

Elke Shaw-Tulloch, a public health administrator for Idaho, mentioned that health districts are in high demand for the vaccination.

“We are of course being very cautious and watching the supply,” Shaw-Tulloch said. “There is not a single health district that is slowing down.”

Jeppesen said the state is also in the process of developing a statewide site that will allow residents to apply for the vaccine, be submitted to a list and surpass the need to go through a provider.

The purpose of the site is to get rid of the hassle of tens of thousands of residents having to check the site multiple times daily without knowing whether an appointment is available.

Jeppesen stated that they are not preventing people from reaching out to a provider. However, this will allow others to sign up and know their provider will contact them when an appointment is available for them.

Due to the storm last week, the vaccination orders that were supposed to be shipped will be fulfilled this week. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived at healthcare providers’ offices and was administered to health districts as of Monday, Feb. 22.

The Moderna vaccinations for last week are predicted to arrive in full count on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The vaccines provided for this week are in the process and being shipped to the correct health districts.

“The state is on course with the vaccination plan and the current group is being monitored for progress,” Shaw-Tulloch said during the briefing.

It was reported that around 30 doses have been recorded as wasted either because of the inability to finish the vial for the sixth dose or another reason. Health officials expect this number to rise.

According to the individual communities and health districts in Idaho, homeowners that own a second home in the state of Idaho are qualified to be considered for the vaccination.

The state is analyzing and monitoring the saturation of the vaccine among the first two groups in Idaho in order to vote on and open the appointments to group 3: residents of ages 16-64 with high-risk health conditions.

Residents are asked to continue to exercise patience with the process.