The Bear River Health Department is doing away with its appointment system for administering COVID-19 vaccines and next week will start giving shots to anyone who shows up.
Beginning Monday, May 3, the health department’s clinics in Brigham City and Logan will transition to offering vaccines on a walk-in basis instead of requiring appointments. The Logan location will also hold limited evening hours beginning May 10.
The change comes as demand for the vaccine has tapered off over the past couple of weeks both locally and nationwide, prompting health officials to look for more effective ways to get shots into as many people as possible.
With the majority of residents aged 65 or older and other at-risk groups having received the vaccine, the focus is now turning to individuals who may be harder to reach, including those who may think they don’t need the vaccine, are skeptical of it, or simply haven’t been able to fit an appointment into their schedules.
BRHD spokesman Joshua Greer said that of the 2,400 slots the department made available this week for people to receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, less than 700 were filled.
“There’s definitely been a decline in demand,” Greer said. “The group of people that were really anxious to get out and get it, we’ve reached them and now people are just trickling in, so we’re trying to look for how to reach some that we haven’t reached before.”
Local hospitals, pharmacies and other medical facilities that are offering the vaccine have seen similar declines, he said.
Starting next week, the health department’s Brigham City (817 W. 950 South) and Logan (655 E. 1300 North) locations will offer curbside vaccines from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Beginning May 10, the Logan location will also offer vaccines from 7 to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Greer said one possible barrier to more widespread distribution of the vaccine has been technology — specifically the requirement that appointments be booked online through the health department website.
“Now we’re saying just walk in during these hours and we can help them fill out the paperwork,” he said.
Clinics up to this point have largely been conducted during regular daytime hours, so offering the evening window should help alleviate that potential conflict with people’s work schedules, he added.
All BRHD clinics going forward will be offering the Pfizer vaccine, which has been approved for anyone who is at least 16 years old. Anyone who has already made an appointment with the health department or Logan Fire Department is encouraged to keep that appointment.
The department is asking those who have it to bring proof of insurance or identification such as a driver license, but Greer said no one will be denied a vaccine or be charged for it.
“If they don’t have either, we won’t turn them away,” he said. “Anyone who is 16 or older and shows up, we’re going to give them the vaccine.”