We want to set the record straight
NOTE: This article includes a 1/25/2021 update related to Utah’s share of total U.S. vaccine doses available.
Utah is currently engaged in one of the most complex events in state history. The ordering, receiving and administering of two COVID-19 vaccines involves numerous partners at the federal, state and local levels of government, as well as the private sector, not to mention ongoing testing and contact tracing efforts, care for those who are sick, and public health guidance for the entire state. This will become even more complicated as additional vaccines are approved by the FDA.
When it comes to the vaccines, the dose numbers change every day, sometimes by the hour. Shortly after numbers are reported, they are out of date because of new allocations from the federal government, orders that are made against those allocations, shipping, receiving, and administering of doses. Depending on the time of day numbers are pulled, they don’t all add up. This is why we report updated numbers one time each day at about 1 p.m. There is a constant flow of doses to the state and into arms. And we’re proud to say Utah and its vaccine providers rank 9th out of the 50 states for vaccines administered.
From the beginning of the pandemic, transparency has been our goal and we have consistently made data available for public use.
Claims made in a Jan. 24 Salt Lake Tribune article and our responses to them
Claim: Utah declines to disclose when vaccines arrive
Response: We’ve been very clear about the ordering and shipping timelines, and we shared this information with the Tribune specifically. Orders for 1st doses are placed on Thursdays and orders for 2nd doses are placed on Sundays. Shipments begin arriving the following Monday and continue throughout the week until all ordered doses have been shipped.
Claim: Utah declines to disclose who gets vaccines
Response: We currently do not report on our public dashboard how many doses each provider receives. We displayed this information online briefly, removed it while we went through a data quality assurance process, and are working to bring back this information by provider type shortly.
Claim: Pharmacies dispute doses are sitting on shelves
Response: CVS and Walgreens’ own public reporting of doses administered matches very closely with what our internal data show. We are confident in the vaccine administration data presented last week by Gov. Spencer Cox.
As of today, Jan. 24, CVS and Walgreens have been:
- Allocated: 91,650 doses (45,825 first doses, 45,825 second doses)
- Delivered: 51,675 total doses
- Administered (in arms): 23,665 total doses (22,590 first, 1,075 second)
In consideration of the 45,825 first doses allocated to the federal pharmacy partners, 22,590 have been administered. This means the federal pharmacy partners have 23,235 allocated first doses that are unused.
In total, 51,675 of the 91,650 doses allocated to CVS and Walgreens have been ordered and delivered to the state of Utah, and 23,665 doses have been administered. This means the federal pharmacy partners have 28,010 doses on hand that are currently unused.
Some of these doses are likely on-hand in preparation for upcoming clinics this week. However, it appears the federal government has allocated too much vaccine to these providers.
We will ensure Walgreens and CVS receive the doses they need to fulfill their obligation in long-term care facilities. But any doses above and beyond need to be transferred or diverted to other providers throughout the state that have the capability to get them into arms as quickly as possible.
CVS and Walgreens are doing an excellent job of getting long-term care facility staff and residents vaccinated. In fact, Utah will be one of the first states to complete first-dose clinics in long-term care facilities in the nation.
Claim: Utah has been allocated fewer doses per capita than all other states
Response: Vaccine is allocated to each state based on that state’s share of the U.S. adult population. Because Utah is the youngest state in the nation, it follows that we would receive fewer doses than other states. We have no reason to believe Utah is receiving fewer doses than it should be, and The Tribune did not disclose its methodology for coming to such a conclusion. We have inquired with CDC to ensure Utah is receiving its fair share of vaccine. They are unaware of any discrepancies but have agreed to review their numbers for accuracy.
We had a discussion with CDC today and confirmed allocation of doses is determined “pro rata by population 18 and older.”
Here’s what the CDC told us:
- Utah has a disproportionately young population, and gets less per capita than comparatively older states.
- Utah has a published population of 3,045,350, of which 918,822 are 17 years of age or younger.
- 30% of Utah’s population is 17 years old or younger.
- Comparing Utah to the rest of the US population: Utah gets about 10% fewer allocations than if we included the entire population.
- Put another way, Utah makes up about 0.93% of the US population when people of all ages are eligible for the vaccine. When we exclude those who are not eligible to receive the vaccine, Utah makes up 0.84% of the US population.
- Here’s a comparison of Utah’s percentage of juveniles to other states similar in total population size:
- Utah: 30.2% of 3.05 million
- Iowa: 23.3% of 3.13 million
- Nevada: 23.1% of 2.92 million
- Puerto Rico: 21.6% of 3.19 million
- Connecticut: 21.0% of 3.58 million
Claim: Under a pending federal policy, our unused vaccine could slow the state’s already meager supply
Response: This proposed policy was introduced by the Trump administration. Biden administration representatives have assured states this proposal is no longer under consideration. States will continue to receive their allocation based on their share of the U.S. adult population, and not based on pace of administration. However, even if this policy were followed, Utah is currently ranked 9th in distribution among states — well above the national average — and would be a net beneficiary. Regardless, Utah vaccine providers will remain strongly committed to administering vaccines within seven days of receiving them, as outlined in Gov. Cox’s Executive Order.
Claim: The state is not disclosing how many vaccines have been reclaimed by the state
Response: The state has worked with the CDC to reduce the amount of doses going to the federal pharmacy partners by 8,775 doses this week (week of 1/24). We are continuing to work directly with CVS and Walgreens to have 13,650 additional, un-ordered doses released to the state for administration throughout Utah. This effectively reduces their future allocations.
Claim: While at least 31,000 unused first doses have been in the state for more than a week, there’s a dispute over who has much of that vaccine
Response: As of January 24, this number is now 26,399 – and almost all (23,235) of those doses are with the federal pharmacy partners. Local health departments have now administered 100% of their vaccine doses that are older than 7 days old.
Claim: Utah has been allocated 524,000 doses through Jan. 25 — about 160 doses per 1,000 residents. That’s the least of any state, and well below the 190 doses that have been allocated per 1,000 people nationally.
Response: Vaccine is allocated to each state based on that state’s share of the U.S. adult population. We have no reason to believe Utah is receiving fewer doses than it should be, and are not familiar with The Tribune’s methodology for coming to such a conclusion. We have inquired with CDC to ensure Utah is receiving its fair share of vaccine. We are in discussions with them to verify they are allocating an equitable amount to Utah.
Claim: It’s unclear why the state would not yet have ordered doses that were allocated on Jan. 18; even the total allocation a week before that, on Jan. 10, was 384,150 — many thousand more than the state reports have been shipped.
Response: Not all doses that are allocated are immediately available to be ordered. Allocated second doses are not available to be ordered, nor do they ship, for two (Pfizer) or three (Moderna) weeks after the allocation is made. For example, Utah’s 2nd-dose allocation for the week of 1/24 Pfizer vaccine is 17,550 doses. These doses will not be ordered or shipped until the week of 2/8. Allocated doses will always lag behind ordered/shipped doses for this reason. Allocated doses will always be a much larger number than ordered/shipped doses.
Claim: About 51,000 first doses that have shipped but have not gotten into patients’ arms. State officials have not accounted for about 20,000 of those doses; they may be in transit or may have arrived in recent days. But at least 31,000 of those unused first doses arrived in Utah more than a week ago and still have not been used.
Response: The difference in these two numbers is doses that are 7+ days old and doses that arrived within the most recent 7 days.
Claim: Representatives for Walgreens and CVS have challenged Cox’s account in statements to The Tribune … Spokespeople for Walgreens and CVS say they do not have thousands of unused doses sitting on shelves. … It is possible, she said that the state is calculating an excess based on a federal allocation estimate, which is different from the amount the pharmacies actually order and receive.
Response: CVS and Walgreens have received 51,675 doses in the state of Utah. As of Jan. 24, they have administered 23,665 doses in total. CVS and Walgreens are in possession of 28,010 doses that have been unused.
Claim: Both (CVS and Walgreens) say that state officials directly approve the number of doses the pharmacies receive each week — in contrast to state officials’ statements that federal authorities decide how many to remove from Utah’s allocation for them.
Response: This is not the case. The federal government tells us each week how many doses are “coming off the top” for CVS and Walgreens.
Claim: The state reports more than 5,400 doses have not been used in hospitals, local health departments and other places, despite arriving more than a week ago. But it’s not clear whether those doses have been collected for redistribution.
Response: As of 7 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2021, there are 3,164 unused prime doses in the state of Utah that are older than seven days that are not in the possession of the federal pharmacy partners. Of these, 891 are in the possession of a local pharmacy contracted to vaccinate in long term care facilities. Some of the long term care facilities this pharmacy had planned to vaccinate have since opted to use the federal pharmacy partnership. We are actively working to get these doses (and their boost counterparts) transferred to this pharmacy’s local health department on Monday, Jan. 25. The remaining 2,273 doses are in hospitals or community health clinics. These doses are scheduled to be transferred to local health departments by Monday, Jan. 25. Zero doses are in local health departments, Utah Navajo Health System, or Community Nursing Services, as they have all utilized 100% of their received vaccine within the 7-day timeframe allowed.
Claim: Because the state is only reporting how many doses each local health department has administered — but not how many they have received — it’s impossible for Utahns to know whether their county or regional health department is taking longer than others to use its supplies.
Response: We need to clarify that the state is currently reporting the total number of residents in each health district who have received their first and second doses, not just how many each local health department has administered. This is clearly stated on the website. Every local health department has now administered 100% of doses received older than 7 days.
We currently do not report on our public dashboard how many doses each provider receives. We displayed this information online briefly, removed it while we went through a data quality assurance process, and are working to bring back this information by provider type shortly.