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Health department explains why more than 32,000 vaccine doses are still on the shelf

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Utah Department of Health explains why more than 32,000 vaccine doses are still on the shelf (KUTV)

Tens of thousands of first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are not being distributed as quickly as they should, according to data from the Utah Department of Health.

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An executive order from Gov. Spencer Cox mandates that doses should be used within seven days of being received. But new numbers out Wednesday showed of the 226,725 first doses the state has received, 32,042 are sitting on the shelf longer than the week they are supposed to, violating the executive order.

Tom Hudachko, health department spokesman, admits the department has had challenges with getting all the vaccine doses out on time. He said most of those delayed doses are with long-term health care facilities which have sometimes staggered their vaccine clinics.

But Hudachko said those problems should be fixed soon.

“Those are doses that may not have been administered just yet but are scheduled to be administered by the end of this weekend,” he said in an interview Wednesday with 2News.

READ: Concerns voiced about COVID-19 vaccine program, Gov. Cox responds in 2News interview

Hudachko said the state is trying to be quick and is adjusting its approach as it goes, attempting to give more support to local health departments in distributing vaccine doses and getting people signed up. Over the past several days, 2News has reported numerous people from southern to northern Utah have had trouble booking vaccine appointments.

2News asked Hudachko what the state would say to those Utahns who want a vaccine and get frustrated hearing that — for whatever reason — there are unused vaccine doses sitting on the shelf.

We know folks are frustrated. We know that they’re not able to get in on the timeline that they would like to get in on,” said Hudachko. “Right now the demand is outpacing the supply.”

Hudachko said the state plans to open vaccine distribution to clinics and smaller pharmacies in the future, but only after the state receives a bigger supply.

In the meantime, he encouraged eligible Utahns to be persistent.

If you can’t get an appointment this week, we need you to try again next week. And if you can’t get one next week, we need you to try again the following week,” he said.