Sunday, March 7, 2021
Clergy and Adult Caregivers Pushed to Front of Line for COVID Vaccines
Skiers eat outside at Galena Lodge near the lodge's new grab-and-go food truck in an effort to minimize risk.
Saturday, January 23, 2021



Idaho’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee recommended Friday that clergy who enter hospitals to give last rites and provide other support for patients be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now.

The committee voted on other recommendations about who should get the vaccine next as Idaho’s vaccine allotment continues to be woefully inadequate.

Idaho continues to do better with 598 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday for a total of 158,798 since the pandemic began. Thirteen more Idahoans have died of COVID-19 bringing the COVID death toll to 1,667. Blaine County, however, reported 27 new cases for a total of 1,830.

The federal government has distributed more than 178,000 doses to Idaho. That’s 9,970 doses for every 100,000 residents, putting Idaho near the bottom compared to the allotment given other states.

The state is shipped just under 21,000 vaccine doses each week.

Only California, South Carolina, Missouri, Nevada and Alabama have received fewer doses based on population. And only four states do worse at getting vaccines into people’s arms. Only 3.4 percent of Idahoans have received at least one dose so far.

Currently, health care workers, nursing home residents, dentists, pharmacists, first responders, child care workers, teachers and correctional center staffs are eligible for vaccines.

But committee members said some have been vaccinating school board members, along with teachers. And some professors who work remotely are jumping the line by claiming to work in behavioral school settings.

So far, 68,627 Idahoans have received at least one dose and 13,732 have received both.

In Blaine County 1,277 health care workers, teachers and first responders have received at least one dose. Ninety-five have received both.

The committee voted to add:

  • Clergy to Group 1, which also includes health care workers and nursing home residents. That means they’re eligible to get vaccinated right now.
  • Adult family members who provide in-home personal care for adults 65 and older or for adults or children with high-risk conditions to Group 1.2.
  • Behavioral health workers to Group 1.4
  • Mortuary and funeral services staff to Group 2.1
  • Homeless shelter residents to Group 2.3.

The recommendations need the approval of Gov. Brad Little to become effective.

Three hundred thousand Idahoans aged 65 or older are scheduled to become eligible for vaccines in early February. But committee members urged patience.


“The demand is far higher than the doses we have,” said Sarah Leeds, who heads up Idaho’s Immunization Program.


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