Idaho's vaccine rollout leaves people with high-risk medical conditions waiting

The state's rollout has set postal workers and food workers in the next phase. Those under the age of 65 and with serious health risks? They'll have to wait.

BOISE, Idaho — Since mid-December, the state of Idaho has vaccinated over 225,000 people. But as the state works through vaccinating the first group, seniors and healthcare workers, others who are at high-risk of COVID-19 complications due to serious health issues are left waiting, wondering when they'll be vaccinated.

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"Throughout this pandemic, I have felt like damaged goods, like people are less worried like if something happened to me because of COVID, it would be because I have a history of cancer and so I think being part of a vulnerable population, we deserve care and protection," Diane Hughes, a breast cancer survivor, told The 208.

Hughes survived cancer five years ago but still needs frequent doctor visits for medications and checkups. 

"So having my blood drawn every six months," she said. "We realized that my Neutrafills were going down, which is part of your white blood cell that is the first defender of your immune system, so before the pandemic even hit I was told to think about wearing a mask out in public and to stay home a little bit more during flu season."

However, due to her health risks, she has had to stay home for much of the last 11 months and miss some appointments.

With other groups like people in homeless shelters and grocery store workers ahead of people with high-risk medical conditions on the state's rollout plan, Hughes doesn't believe voices from people like her are being heard.

"I'm not sure if there's anybody out there who is advocating for me or the thousands of people that I represent," she said. "I mean, I have friends with diabetes and asthma and mental health  issues and it can feel like you're all alone."

Hughes told The 208 that she's looking at the end of April until she could get vaccinated under Gov. Brad Little's rollout plan.

"I think protecting high-risk populations is worth the effort, I think it doesn't have to be easy or simple to be worthwhile," she said.

The next COVID-19 advisory board meeting is Friday, March 5. The board will accept public comment, in writing by email until noon Monday. Email at: covid19vaccinepubliccomment@dhw.idaho.gov.

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