Utah Governor Spencer Cox apologized on Monday for an error in his state’s data that showed 70 percent of adults had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine before this benchmark was actually hit.
In a statement on Twitter, he said the true number of over-18s who have been given at least one shot is 67.07 percent.
The error occurred due to an issue with counting doses administered in Utah by federal agencies, including pharmacy partnerships and Indian Health Services.
‘We screwed up. And I sincerely apologize,’ he wrote in a statement attached to a tweet published on Monday afternoon.
‘A couple days ago, we learned that there was a mistake in the way we had counted federal doses,’ he wrote. ‘It soon became clear that we had only reached 67.07%. While federal data sharing has been extremely difficult, this one is on us. Our data team is devastated and embarrassed. And so am I.’
Cox wrote that there is no evidence the miscalculation was due to an ethical issue and that it was ‘a result of simple human error.’
Utah Governor Spencer Cox apologized for an error in his state’s data showing 70% of adults had received at least one COVID-19 shot before the benchmark was actually hit
Utah’s initial 70% vaccination announcement overestimated the doses administered by federal agencies. Pictured: Vaccination at a clinic in Springfield, Missouri
Cox said that the data team at Utah’s Department of Health has ‘re-examined processes to prevent this type of error from happening again.’
Utah is working to increase vaccinations in the state through mobile vaccination sites, community partnerships, and education campaigns.
While many states did not hit Biden’s 70 percent vaccination goal by July 4, the number is still considered an important benchmark on the path to herd immunity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 states and the District of Columbia have met the goal, as of July 13 – vaccinating at least 70 percent of their adult populations with at least one dose.
Vermont has the highest vaccination rate, with 86 percent of adults in the state inoculated. Mississippi and Louisiana have the lowest rates, both under 50 percent.
While most vaccinations administered in the U.S. happen under the purview of state governments, some are the federal government’s responsibility.
Many of these doses are given through a federal partnership with national pharmacy chains, including about eight million doses given to nursing home residents early in 2021.
Doses may also be administered through the Indian Health Service, Veterans Administration, Department of Defense, and Department of Corrections – all federal agencies.
According to the Utah Department of Health, about 2.9 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state as of July 12.
That includes about 53,000 doses administered by federal agencies.
When Cox’s administration initially announced that Utah had vaccinated 70 percent of adults, the health agency staff had overestimated the number of doses administered by federal agencies.
Rather than announcing that Utah hit the benchmark when the data team first made this calculation, the team ‘decided to wait a few days to double- and triple-check the numbers,’ Cox said.
Still, the error was not caught until after a public announcement had been made.
Instead of reaching 70 percent of Utah adults vaccinated, Cox said, the true number is 67.07 percent.
Utah’s vaccination rate has declined in recent months, with a current average of about 4,500 shots given each day
Utah seniors are vaccinated at much higher rates than young adults
The Utah Department of Health team is working to ensure that similar errors don’t occur again, Cox wrote in his statement.
‘While this miscalculation is inexcusable, they have re-examined processes to prevent this type of error from happening again.’
Meanwhile, Utah state leadership is working to improve vaccination rates through mobile vaccination sites, partnerships with community organizations, and educational campaigns such as a Vaccine Mythbusters video.
Residents can even request that the state send a mobile vaccination clinic to their community or workplace using an online form.
‘We will continue to do everything possible to make vaccinations easier and more accessible,’ Cox said.
Such campaigns are especially crucial for the state as the Indian ‘Delta’ variant spreads.
The variant is now causing about three-quarters of new cases in Utah and other Mountain West states, according to the CDC.