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Idaho COVID-19 Advisory Committee recommends including 65 and older adults in Phase 2

The committee met for two hours Friday afternoon. It will sent its recommendations to the governor for final approval.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho could be changing who gets the COVID-19 vaccine and when.

The Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee voted to include frontline essential workers and people age 65 and older in Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout in Idaho. It was option C in the chart below and includes more than half a million Idahoans.

Dr. David Peterman is the CEO of the Primary Health Medical Group and a member of the advisory committee. He said right now only about as high as 63 percent of the healthcare workers they are involved with are actually getting the vaccine. 

"I think that we need to realize that the numbers there all need to be decreased by 30 percent of those that actually want vaccine," Peterman said.

Credit: IDHW

"When I look at Los Angeles and what is happening there and what happened initially, I think believe our job is to keep people away and out of the hospital."

The committee voted 25-7 in favor of recommendation C, which includes those older Idahoans. That recommendation will now go to Gov. Brad Little for final approval.

The advisory committee also voted to approve some changes to include additional essential workers in four different subgroups in Phase 2. The chart below shows the biggest change in group clarification.

 

Credit: IDHW

The committee decided to take up three more votes on clarifying who should be in sub-groups for Phase 2 at its next meeting.

Idaho is currently in Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout, which includes health care workers as well as residents and staff at long-term care facilities. That amounts to around 130,000 people. Health officials said they hope to get all those people vaccinated by the end of January.

There is currently no timeframe for when Idaho will enter Phase 2. In the meantime, the committee is trying to vaccinate at least 70% of any category before they proceed to the next one.

If Gov. Litte approves the changes to Phase 2, committee members say it would take seventeen weeks to vaccinate most of the phase.

The committee also addressed concerns over the delayed pacing of vaccinations. 

Dr. Hahn, a state epidemiologist, said Idaho has received over 100,000 doses to date. Only 26,806 people have been vaccinated. 

Hahn said the delay is for a number of reasons. 

"A lot of these doses arrive late in the week, so providers are really catching up at the end of the week, unpacking them, ensuring the proper storage of them,  and then planning their clinics," Hahn said. "The ordering was a little different over the holidays and so now that we have a regular cadence, you know we know now that they can plan for the doses that they are getting."

Meanwhile, Idaho's COVID positivity rate is on the rise.

It's back up to roughly 16 percent, which is a 3 percent increase from the previous week.

The state is reporting another thousand plus cases of COVID and 24 new virus-related deaths.

Meanwhile, nearly 26,000 vaccine doses have been administered.