COVID-19 Info – Zion Canyon
(page last updated: 24 Feb, 2021, 2:59pm)
This is a brief synopsis of how folks who live in and around Zion National Park and Washington County Utah can prepare for and take advantage of the coming COVID vaccination programs in our area, and a report of my findings of how the process is working so far. Hope this helps! –Niles
- In addition to the Washington County Health Department (below), Smith’s Pharmacy will be making the Moderna vaccine available to limited groups within our area, starting February 10, 2021. More information available here.
- Starting March 1, 2021, the qualifications for receiving vaccines will be expanding. See the Southwest Utah Health pages for details.
- If you are under 65 and will qualify for vaccine based on specific health conditions, you will probably need to provide a special code for this. The list of codes may be found here.
Excerpt from SW Utah Health pages (link):
Starting March 1, 2021, people 16 years or older with any of the following medical conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine (if you are 16 or 17 years old, you can ONLY get the Pfizer vaccine):
- Asplenia including splenectomy or a spleen dysfunction
- Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher (this is also called Class III or severe obesity)
- Chronic heart disease (not hypertension) including chronic heart failure, ischaemic heart disease, and severe valve or congenital heart disease
- Chronic liver disease including chronic hepatitis B or C, alcohol-related liver disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, or primary sclerosing cholangitis or hemochromatosis
- Cancer diagnosed within the last 5 years that began in the blood, bone marrow, or cells in the immune system. This type of cancer is called hematologic cancer (such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma).
- Cancer diagnosed within the last 1 year that didn’t begin in the blood or bone marrow. This type of cancer is called non-hematologic cancer (excluding basal and squamous cell cancer diagnoses).
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood, bone marrow, or organ transplant; HIV; long-term use of corticosteroids; or other medicines that weaken the immune system
- Neurologic conditions that impair respiratory function, including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, epilepsy, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, Parkinson’s disease, progressive cerebellar disease, and quadriplegia or hemiplegia
- Receiving dialysis for severe kidney disease
- Receiving immunosuppression therapy
- Sickle cell disease
- Severe chronic respiratory disease (other than asthma) including severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fibrosing lung disease, bronchiectasis, or cystic fibrosis
- Solid organ transplant recipient
- Stage 4 or stage 5 chronic kidney disease
- Stroke and dementia (Alzheimer’s, vascular, or frontotemporal)
- Uncontrolled diabetes with an A1c of 9% or higher
Preface & Commentary
The current COVID19 vaccination program nationwide may be described as a sadly Darwinian ”every state for themselves” setup, and even within Utah the picture is at present a patchwork quilt down to the county level. Based on my initial observations (below) the current process of getting vaccinated in our county resembles nothing so much as an online sale of hot tickets to a Lady Gaga (Rolling Stone / Drake, choose your favorite genre) concert, where all tickets are snatched up in the first three milliseconds. In this case, it is not quite that bad, but not by much.
One of the tragic and ironic consequences of the current setup, is that the folks who may need the vaccines the most (elderly, poor, etc) may not have the resources or be “hip” enough to find their way to the registration site, and even then would not be able to get on at the right time at the right place to see anything but a “all slots taken (try again some other time)”.
I am hopeful that this little blog post will help the locals (many of whom are no longer young) find their way to a vaccine with as little grief and struggle as possible. If you have any further advice, email me at niles (at) nilesritter.com.
How to Prepare for Vaccination Process
Please note that in Utah the procedure differs for each county, and so this is really only valid for those in Washington County (which includes folks who live in Zion Canyon). You do not have to do all the steps listed here, but it may help make the process smoother and much less cumbersome and painful, and will also help ensure that you are able to get your booster shot later.
Step 1: Subscribe to State of Utah Covid Notification Email
Go to the main Utah Coronavirus Website for vaccination information and signups for their email notification service. The email notification service is important, because (unless you are already over 70 or qualify to get it), you will receive early notices in your email about when your “demographic” will be able to go online and set up an appointment.
Step 2: Monitor the Southwest Utah Vaccination Website
The Southwest Utah Public Health Department website maintains the specific links to the county-level locations and appointment slots which you will need to use to set up your appointment. The website is updated regularly, and so new slots may open at any time. At present it appears that they update the appointments at 9:00 am on Mondays, but this is subject to change. So, besides subscribing to the email service, you might want to check this website every day, at or around 9:00 to see what’s new.
The website includes a lot of valuable information specific to your county, and so be sure to read the web page for details. In particular the far right-hand side includes a list of what you need to bring with you to the appointment, including Personal ID, Proof of County Residency, and Proof of current Employment (the latter only necessary for those whose job qualifies their vaccination).
Step 3: (Optional) Register Your Login at Signup Genius
All vaccinations are done by appointment only, at the website above. While it is not absolutely necessary, the signup for a specific time goes through SignupGenius.com, and so it will probably speed things up if you get a (free) account on that site first. You can skip that step, but it may help if (for example) you later want to reschedule. Click on the link above to sign up.
Step 4: When You Qualify, Set Up Appointment
The Southwest Utah Public Health Department website has the link to the available days on which appointments can be made. My observation is that the new time slots become available at 9:00 am on Mondays, and so your best bet for getting a time is to go to the linked website at 8:58am or so, and continually refresh until the new slots appear.
The website also includes a Vax Info Sheet, that you will want to read to know whether there are reasons you should not take the vaccine, things to watch out for after, things you should tell the person at the clinic giving you the shot, etc.
Step 5: Fill out Vax Consent Form (Before you Go)
To speed up the process, before going to the appointment, fill out the SW Utah COVID Vaccination Consent Form, which the clinic will need before giving you the shot. Note that this form may change, so be sure to get the latest copy of the form on the SW Utah website. It will be down at the bottom, with a link marked “Vaccine Consent Form”.
Also, be sure to bring
- Proof of residence in your county. This could be utility bill with your address or other official document.
- Personal ID
- Wear a short sleeve shirt
Step 6: SIgn Up for V-Safe on your Smart Phone (After you Go)
Observation: the Appointments go FAST!
While I do not (yet) qualify for a vaccination, I decided to see how the website works. When I first brought up the website at 8:59, there were no “First Dose Clinics” dates available, with a notice that it would be updated at 9:00am. When I refreshed at 9:00 SHARP, the website had three new dates, February 4, 5, and 11:
When I went to the February 4 link, I saw that there were timeslots every five minutes available. When you clicked on the slots you were prompted for a login at “SignupGenius.com”. Since I did not yet qualify I didn’t log in, but instead just did refreshes every ten seconds or so. Within 4 minutes every single slot for February 4 was filled:
I then went to the next day (Feb. 5) and saw that there were still slots open. After refreshing, those slots filled up in another 6 minutes. The last day (Feb. 11) filled up 4 minutes after that.
A Take-Away and some Helpful Advice
My little experiment with the website suggests to me the following points and tips:
- The slots fill up within minutes of their becoming available (February). Later on this month and year, the slots may fill up within seconds.
- You should try to get online by 8:58am on Monday to check for dates, and refresh the page every couple seconds as you approach 9:00 am.
- Recheck the website if their update schedule changes over the weeks or months.
- When new vax dates become available, if you want to make sure that you get a slot, do NOT try to get the earliest date that became available, but instead go to the very LAST date available, as nobody will be looking at that first. If you start at the earliest slot you will be competing with a lot of other people, and may wind up not getting a slot at all.