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Utah nurses offer advice for people concerned about COVID-19 vaccine

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Utah will begin distributing COVID-19 vaccines this week, as the first shipments are on their way to five Utah hospitals. (Photo: KUTV){ }

Utah's COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins Monday or Tuesday. The first shipments of the vaccines are on their way to five Utah hospitals.

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Frontline hospital staff who are most likely to be exposed to the virus will be the first to get the vaccine.

Healthcare workers said they understand why some Utahns have concerns about the vaccine. They did their own research before deciding for themselves whether to get vaccinated.

While some said the vaccine feels rushed, for hospital staff it’s been a long wait.

"It definitely feels like a long time coming. We had COVID patients since the middle of March,” said Courtney Jorgensen, a clinical nurse coordinator in the University of Utah Medical Center's ICU.

Her hospital alone is expecting 2,000-3,000 vaccines this coming week alone. Hospitals will not be requiring staff to get vaccinated, Jorgenson said they did a poll to gauge interest.

There were some breastfeeding mothers or pregnant women that maybe wanted to talk to their doctors first, but most people seemed like they were wanting to do it,” she said.

At Intermountain Healthcare, their freezers are ready for when the vaccines start arriving. Four Intermountain hospitals will be getting the first batch of vaccines: Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Dixie Regional in St. George, and Utah Valley Hospital in Provo.

"One of our doctors had said this now puts us on the offense rather than the defense,” said Josh Lane, an Emergency Department nurse for Intermountain Healthcare.

He said he understands why some people have concerns about the vaccine, he had questions himself and turned to trusted doctors and pharmacists for answers.

“I sat down with them and said you know, talk to me. Give me the information."

Jorgensen said she also had questions that needed answers before getting vaccinated, but both agreed the research is solid, and they feel safe getting it.

You're more likely to get really sick from COVID than you are from this vaccine,” Jorgensen said.

She pointed out that the clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine were much larger than typical trials, and the chances of a serious negative reaction is slim.

She said her biggest hope now is that Utahns can look beyond the fear, politics, and misinformation associated with the vaccine.

“We all want to go back to normal life, we all want to stop wearing masks, and not having parties, and this and that. So, I hope that people will trust science and trust our government and trust the people that know and take the vaccine and help us get through this," Jorgensen said.

The start of vaccinations certainly doesn't mean an end to personal protective equipment and social distancing in hospitals or in public, especially since it may take until the spring or summer for most people to get vaccinated. But healthcare workers said this does feel like a glimmer of light near the end of a very dark tunnel.