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Eastern Idaho Public Health introduces lottery system for COVID-19 vaccine distribution


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Geri Rackow announces changes to the COVID-19 Vaccine distribution.

IDAHO FALLS — Eastern Idaho Public Health announced Wednesday a lottery-style system for priority groups to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Idaho began allowing those 65 and older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. With a limited supply of the vaccine and high demand, many found it impossible to schedule an appointment on the first-come, first-served online and phone system Saturday morning.

“For that, we seriously apologize,” EIPH Director Geri Rackow said. “In order to make the process much more simplified, we have established a waiting list.”

In the future, EIPH will assign available vaccination appointments randomly for those who register on the waiting list before Feb. 11 at 8 a.m. The computer-generated randomizer will then inform EIPH officials to call or text registered individuals information about their appointment.

Appointments are expected to occur between Feb. 15 through the end of March, according to health officials.

“We are working very hard to accommodate everyone as quickly as possible,” Rackow said.

In EIPH’s eight-county district, 30,000 people qualify under the second stage of Idaho’s vaccine rollout. EIPH said they are getting about 2,500 doses a week.

Seniors, who represent the most vulnerable demographic to the novel coronavirus, were next in line to get vaccinated after first responders, K-12 teachers and staff, daycare workers, and a few other priority groups.

The first vaccine in Idaho was administered on Dec. 14 at Madison Memorial Hospital. Rackow said with the other priority groups getting the vaccine over the past several weeks, most of the new doses will go to those 65 and older. Spouses of those who register (who must also be 65 or older) will also be given the ability to schedule an appointment at the same time.

To sign up for the waiting list, people can visit EIPH’s website or call (208) 533-3223. EIPH asks that people leave a message and be patient for a call back because of the expected high call volume.

If someone already signed up before today, they do not need to do anything else. EIPH expects to send a text or call to already registered individuals today to confirm registration.

If people register before Feb. 11, they can expect a call by Feb. 22 to confirm an appointment. If they sign up after Feb. 11, they will be called after Feb. 22.

EIPH asks that people not call until after Feb. 22 to check the status of their appointment as it would not have been scheduled until they receive a call.

“We are doing our best and as more vaccine becomes available we will get more and more people in,” Rackow said.

Those needing accommodations, such as unavailable to drive or are blind are encouraged to tell EIPH when scheduling their appointment. Answers to other questions can likely be found in the document published by EIPH Wednesday morning.