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The City Journals

Doctors share their experience of vaccinating Utahns against Covid-19

Apr 05, 2021 11:47AM ● By Drew Crawford

Utah doctors share their time and talents to ensure vaccination of all eligible Utahns. (Photo courtesy Lisa Ferdinando/Flickr)

By Drew Crawford | [email protected]

In a March 18 press conference, Gov. Spencer Cox announced that all Utahns 16 years or older of age would be eligible for receiving a Covid-19 vaccination on March 24. 

During the last several months, medical personnel and local residents have volunteered their personal time to ensure that anyone falling within these age groups can get vaccinated. This community effort has led to the full vaccination of 450,128 people living in The Beehive State at the time of this writing. 

“The Governor made a call for volunteers, and you can sign up with Utah Responds to be a volunteer,” Dr. Sarah Woolsey, the division director for the Division of Family Health and Preparedness with the Utah Department of Health, said. “Utah Responds is a website, so you put in all your credentials and then you’re sent to volunteer opportunities with the counties.” 

Woolsey, who has volunteered with the Medical Reserve Corps since April 2020, is passionate about the opportunities available to volunteer and help end Covid-19. She recommends that those who wants to help work with the Corps use the tools found on the Utah Responds website to start volunteering. 

On a typical day Woolsey sets up her table with the proper equipment and gives vaccines nonstop during the entire time that she is there. Last weekend, Woolsey gave 56 vaccines over the course of four hours. 

“Although you have to have a medical credential to administer a vaccination, anyone can help. We help schedule appointments for people, we help organize the crowds, we help move supplies around,” Woolsey explained, giving an example of how lay volunteers can help the older population with iPad technology.

“I call this the happiest place on Earth because everybody is happy to be there, because they’re thrilled to be in a place where they’re going to get that protection from Covid-19,” she said. 

Dr. Michael Rubin, an infectious diseases doctor that works with the VA, and the husband of Woolsey, feels that the highlight of his volunteer experience has been hearing the stories that people tell about what they will do once vaccinated. 

“When people show up, I like asking if they’re excited, because everyone has some story to tell about what they’re hoping to do when they’re immune,” he said. 

“It’s a large operation with a lot of volunteers, and the organization is really sharp and very smooth, so that people are able to be guided through the entire process from when they walk through the door to when they walk out,” Rubin said. 

“There are volunteers there to greet them, and to check them in, and get them the information they need, and to guide them through to where the vaccines are and then once the vaccine is delivered, they’re guided to where the observation area is,” Rubin said.

“The mood of the whole situation is one of hope and excitement,” he said. “You can just tell that people are really happy to be there.”

As long as the current trajectory continues Woolsey feels that the number of fully vaccinated people will soon be much higher.

“Utah’s doing a good job administering all of the vaccines we’re given, which makes us eligible to continue to get those supplies. It’s the volunteers, it’s the people willing to get the vaccines, it’s the medical community and the public health community that are making this happen,” Woolsey said.

“We are seeing the declines in cases and deaths,” she said, “so we’re seeing evidence that this is working.”

Volunteers who want to help with the vaccination process can visit www.utahresponds.org to sign up for opportunities in the community. 

Candidates who are eligible for vaccination can find answers to common questions at coronavirus.utah.gov/.