Newly inaugurated Gov. Spencer Cox wasted little time in declaring that one of his top priorities will be the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The first priority and really, it’s probably one, two and three in and of itself, is vaccine distribution,” Cox said the morning after being sworn-in. “Nothing else matters more right now. And our goal is and has to be that every dose of vaccine that we receive from the federal government is gone within a week after receiving it.”

At the time of Cox’s swearing-in in Ivins, only about half of the vaccine doses sent to Utah had been administered. Cox said the delays were unacceptable.

“It’s a huge concern. And that’s exactly what I’m referring to when I say we haven’t rolled it out as quickly as I want,” he said. “We have the infrastructure, the people, the willingness to work together. We’ve just got to be able to synchronize what’s happening.”

A few days after his inauguration, Cox also moved teachers and school staff members up the priority list for vaccination, mandating that their vaccinations would begin on Jan. 11. School districts were instructed to establish priority lists for older teachers and those with comorbidities. Cox also changed the designation of what constitutes senior citizen eligibility from 75 years of age to 70. Seniors will begin receiving the vaccine on Jan. 18, followed by those over 65 with certain health conditions that will be announced later, Cox said.

Cox has met with state health officials and stressed the importance of stepping up the state’s vaccine distribution.

“There is nothing more important in any of our careers collectively than what we are doing now,” Cox said he told the unified command. “This is what the world has been waiting for. It is unacceptable to have vaccines sitting on a shelf.”

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