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Department of health, Cox admit error in vaccine reporting, Utah officially below 70% mark

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FILE - Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox speaks during a briefing at the Utah State Capitol on Jan. 8, 2021, in Salt Lake City.(Photo: AP, Pool, File)

Utah's Department of Health has updated the percentage of Utahns at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and the number is below the 70% reported a week ago. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said he and the data team is "devastated and embarrassed," by the mistake.

"It is disappointing to discover we did not reach our goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4," UDOH said in a statement. "And we regret that inaccurate information was relayed to Gov. Cox and the people of Utah. But we remain steadfast in our commitment to presenting data accurately, transparently, and with integrity."

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox also acknowledged the error and used it to say he will hold himself and others in the government accountable for mistakes.

"Welp. We screwed up," he stated on his Twitter account. "Because of a reporting error we have not yet hit 70% on our adult vaccinations."

A week ago Cox said that on July 4 the latest data from the Utah Department of Health showed that only 65.2 percent of Utah's adults had received at least one dose of the vaccine but said that data didn't include doses administered by Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, those in correctional facilities or by Indian Health Services.

The error in the state's process, according to a letter from UDOH, is that it interpreted all federal doses as new doses though many were not new. The resulted in some single doses being counted twice to reach the 70% threshold goal promoted by health officials and Cox. UDOH stated:

As of July 12, 2021, 67.07% of Utah adults have received at least one dose rather than the 70.2% previously reported.

It also listed the data and math.

"This includes 1,495,752 doses reported through the state's data system and 29,880 doses reported through the federal data system, for a total of 1,525,632 total first doses administered to Utahns ages 18 and older. These doses divided by the 2019 adult population of 2,274,774 equals 67.07% of the adult population."

Cases are rising in Utah and health officials have repeatedly mentioned the delta variant that is spreading in Utah. It is said to be more contagious. It also said that reporting transparent and accurate information is a way to help Utah residents make more informed decisions about the vaccine.

In May Cox said he supported incentives to get Utahns to get the vaccines. He later retreated from that stance and by the end of May, said there was no rush to put an incentive program into place.

"A couple of days ago we learned there was a mistake in the way we had counted federal doses. It soon became clear that we had only reached 67.07%," Cox wrote. "While federal data sharing has been extremely difficult, this one is on us. Our data team is devastated and embarrassed. And so am I."