Lt. Gov. Henderson visits San Juan County to aid vaccine distribution

Diedre Henderson, the new Lt. Governor of Utah, made a quick trip to San Juan County on January 13 in an effort to coordinate public health efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The most important thing is to get as many shots in arms as soon as possible,” said Henderson, who was on a tour of the 13 public health districts in the state.

Distribution of the vaccine is progressing in San Juan County, with more than ten percent of the population receiving the vaccine.

Henderson discussed three goals for the state effort to coordinate distribution of the vaccine, including delivering all doses within seven days of their arrival, reporting the results on a daily basis, and efficiently determining who to vaccinate.

Henderson outlined some of the unique challenges facing San Juan County, including sometimes confusing jurisdictions, isolated communities, language and cultural issues, high poverty, and the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, both San Juan Public Health and Utah Navajo Health System offer public health services in the county. Henderson mentioned that she has been very impressed with the two entities partnering to develop the most efficient model to distribute the vaccine.

Byron Clarke, Chief Operating Officer of UNHS, stated that his organization has an ultra-cold refrigeration unit that allows them to efficiently handle the Pfizer vaccine.

Other organizations, including San Juan Public Health, can use the Moderna vaccine, which does not require ultra-cold handling.

Henderson said a key goal is educating residents about the safety of the vaccine. “The perception of many is that the vaccine process was rushed, which is a false perception,” said the Lt. Governor. “There was nothing about the vaccine process that is unsafe.”

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