Wednesday, February 24, 2021
St. Luke’s Uses Wait List to Make Sure Vaccine Doses Aren’t Wasted
As the valley awaits herd immunity that a vaccine offers, a youngster wears a mask as protection against the coronavirus while at Rotarun Ski Area.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021



The horror stories keep coming in about COVID vaccines that have been wasted because clinics ran out of people in the current priority group or because the vaccine was not stored properly.

State officials say Idaho has had minimal wasted doses. And here in the Wood River Valley, St. Luke’s Wood River has worked hard to keep vaccine from being wasted, says Joy Prudek, public information officer for the hospital.

Blaine County’s new cases of coronavirus continue to climb with 36 new cases reported in the past few days for a total of 1,866. But Idaho as a whole has been doing better in the past week with just 527 new cases of coronavirus on Monday for a total of 160,033. Fourteen more Idahoans have died in the past few days for a total of 1,681 deaths.

It takes effort, she added because doses expire in a number of hours once they are pulled from a vial.

Initially, when the vaccine was being dispensed to hospital workers, it was easy to grab another hospital if one hospital worker was unable to make a vaccine appointment. But, as workers began to vaccinate the community, they realized they needed a way to address the extra doses that show up in some but not all vials, while filling appointments left vacant by no shows and those who had to cancel at the last minute.

To ensure no doses were wasted, St. Luke’s established a Wait List at all of its hospitals to rapidly fill openings as they became available. The Wait List was compiled from those who had called St. Luke’s Connect before their group was eligible for the vaccine.

These appointments can become available with as little as 30 minutes notice. Those on the list are sorted by priority status. Right now, for instance, those 65 and older are next in line to be vaccinated.

“The Wait List has grown considerably and, because these same day doses are so few, we are no longer taking names for the lists,” said Prudek. “We will continue to use names from the list to fill openings to ensure no doses are wasted, but there is no guarantee a person will be called.  There is a large number of people on the list and a small number are pulled from the list.”

Individuals will still need to book an appointment when their group is opened for scheduling, Prudek said. Individuals will not be automatically scheduled or notified of their group opening for vaccination appointments.

South Central District Health Department has been able to make use of every single dose, said Brianna Bodily, public information officer.

"Even if someone is forced to cancel their appointment, we've been able to fill that spot with other individuals close on the priority list. If at some point we need to open a Wait List to make sure all the vaccine is being used, we will let people know."

Those 65 and older are expected to get the opportunity in early February to schedule vaccinations, even though the state recently learned that the federal government did not have a stockpile of second doses to dispense as it had promised.

It’s estimated that it will take about 10 weeks or more to vaccinate that group.

"Fortunately, we have more providers on board to help distribute the vaccine than we have at any point so far," said Brianna Bodily, of South Central Public Health District. "The speed of the distribution will depend on how many of those providers continue to help with the effort, how many more join the effort, how much vaccine we have and how many people are interested in receiving the vaccine. Each of those numbers fluctuate daily so 10 weeks is an estimate at best."

The state is still trying to finalize a registration tool for people to sign up for vaccinations. St. Luke’s also is refining its signup process

“We hope when people go to myChart there will be a big button they can click on to schedule their appointment,” said Prudek. “Right now there’s a series of steps  they have to go through, and we want to make it easier.”

To date, 78,805 Idahoans have received at least one dose of the vaccine--14,648 have received both. There have been 1,410 people that have received at least one dose in the Wood River Valley.

Some local teachers are scheduled to receive their first doses in mid-February--a month after they became eligible.

Bodily said it's estimated that 20 percent of Blaine County residents are over the age of 65, which is the next group scheduled to receive vaccines.

  • There were 150,000 Idahoans eligible to receive the vaccine in the first group of health care workers and nursing home residents.
  • There are close to 500,000 Idahoans in the current group, which includes first responders, teachers, child care workers and correctional staff.
  • The next group of those 65 and older encompasses 250,000 Idahoans—or 16.3 percent of the state’s 1.79 million population. Depending on supply, a tiered approach may be needed. A schedule for vaccinating the group should be announced before Feb. 1.
  • Late February to early March will open to food and agriculture workers, including grocery and convenience store employees, Idaho National Guard, public transit and U.S. Postal Service workers.
  • Group 3, includes about 470,000 Idahoans, including other essential workers and those aged 16 through 64 with high-risk medical conditions that increase their risk for severe COVID-19. That could come the end of March or early April.
  • Group 4 includes all others—basically, those between the ages of 16 and 64--and could come in May.

The Biden administration has said it wants to vaccinate 100 million Americans during its first 100 days. That’s very doable, provided the supply of vaccine is there. During flu season the United States vaccinates about 3 million people a day, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle.

The nation’s top health officials have said Johnson & Johnson could seek emergency authorization for its vaccine within two weeks. If approved, that would add to the supply.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses viral vector technology, which has been used for Ebola, HIV and Zika. Accordingly, scientists insert genetic code from the virus’ spike protein into a harmless virus that carries the genetic code to the cell. When the cell sees the code, it begins making spike proteins.

The manufacturer is currently trying to determine whether one dose or two will be needed.


~  Today's Topics ~

Idaho Wants Proof You Live or Work Here if You Want a Vaccine

Idaho to Ramp Up Vaccines as Second Variant Case Reported

Zoom into Your Pandemic Garden









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