As the daily number of COVID-19 related deaths in Utah spiked on Wednesday to 18 — equaling the number who died in the previous three days combined — Intermountain Healthcare has begun giving second doses of the vaccine to its health care workers, among the first in Utah to be fully inoculated.
“I know my body is producing proteins, producing antibodies,” said Sophie Woodbury, a surgical nurse at Salt Lake City’s LDS Hospital, at a Wednesday news conference. “With the second dose, and a few days down the road, I feel a little bit more relief. I feel more protected. I feel more encouraged for the future.”
The Utah Department of Health reported 4,661 vaccinations since the previous day, for a statewide total of 60,462. UDOH has said it will report the number of people fully vaccinated once Utahns begin getting their second dose; although Woodbury and others received second doses Tuesday, UDOH had not started reporting that number.
The state said the number of Utahns in intensive care units because of the coronavirus jumped 13% from Tuesday to Wednesday, to a total of 192.
Intermountain, Utah’s largest hospital system, has given out some 25,000 vaccine doses as of Jan. 4, said Dr. Tamara Sheffield, Intermountain’s medical director of community health and prevention.
Sheffield said Intermountain has not yet ordered additional vaccine for its staff, but that the second dose was shipped to them automatically.
Most of the first doses went to front-line health care workers, though some have been given to first responders and residents at the company’s in-house long-term care facilities.
When the second doses are distributed, Sheffield said, Intermountain will order more.
”We have to demonstrate our capacity to be vaccinators to the federal government,” Sheffield said. “Future deliveries of vaccine are dependent on how well we can quickly move through and provide the vaccine that we’ve already been given.”
As Utah moves into later phases of the vaccine’s rollout, Sheffield said, Intermountain would be working with regional health departments to distribute vaccine to teachers, first responders, and to people 75 and older.
Health care workers who are getting the second dose of vaccine this week say they are feeling some mild side effects and a great deal of relief.
Woodbury said she felt no side effects after her first dose of the Pfizer Inc./BioNTech version of the vaccine, which she received three weeks ago as one of the first people in Utah to be vaccinated.
After the second dose, she woke up Wednesday with a slight headache, she said at Intermountain’s news conference. “I took a couple ibuprofen and that really did the trick,” she said.
Monte Roberts, an ICU nurse at LDS Hospital, said he felt a bit tired after getting the second dose Tuesday, and had a sore arm at the injection site. “I’m really excited that I’ve had the opportunity to get both doses,” Roberts said.