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Idaho releases rough timeline for COVID-19 vaccination shots


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BOISE (AP) — Idaho officials have released a rough timeline for when residents can expect their turn to get the coronavirus vaccination, though much of the planning remains a work in progress and is contingent on the state’s supply and demand.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on Monday released the timeline that anticipates it will take through the end of the summer to vaccinate all adults who want the shot.

“The biggest thing we want people to realize is that the timeline is the best information we have at this time,” said department spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr. “We’ll get to everyone who wants a vaccine eventually, but we really hope everyone will be patient and continue to follow the recommended guidelines in the meantime.”

Statewide guidelines limit group size and encourage social distancing and the wearing of masks when that’s not possible.

Forbing-Orr said the state doesn’t have estimates from federal authorities for timeframes greater than two weeks on how much of the vaccine the state will receive, though the picture could become clearer in January.

“We’ll communicate changes as frequently as possible,” she said.

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She also said it’s not clear how many Idaho residents will decline to get the vaccine, which could also change the timeline. Idaho tends to have a high number of residents wary of vaccinations.

“But we are doing our best to educate and encourage people to get the vaccine,” Forbing-Orr said.

The first round of shots started this month and is being administered to front-line health care workers and residents at long-term care facilities. State officials estimate there are 140,000 people in the category, and that through Monday nearly 12,000 of them have received the first shot of the two-shot vaccine.

The second group, which numbers about 330,000, is expected to start receiving vaccinations in February.

That group is comprised of essential workers and adults 75 and over. Experts say older adults are more susceptible to death or serious illness from COVID-19.

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Essential workers in the category include firefighters, police, school teachers, prison workers, members of the Idaho National Guard, food processing workers and workers at grocery stores and convenience stores.

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The second group also includes essential workers who are unable to telework or to distance from others at work. The Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee is still working out definitions on essential workers in this category, and will make recommendations to Republican Gov. Brad Little.

The third group, numbering about 500,000, is expected to start getting vaccinated in April. This group is comprised of people 65 and older and people age 16 to 64 who have medical conditions that put them at increased risk if they contract the virus.

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Essential workers in this group are defined as workers not included in the previous groups.

The final group, numbering 800,000, is simply defined as the general public. Vaccinations for that group are expected to begin in May.

State officials say that about 137,000 residents have been infected with the virus, and that nearly 1,400 have died.

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