LOGAN – The Logan City Fire and Bear River Health departments are preparing to jointly offer community COVID-19 vaccination clinics for local residents in the near future.
That immunization effort will be possible thanks to more than $207,000 in CARES Act funding recently allocated for that purpose by the Logan City Council on Feb. 16.
“The idea is to use existing facilities and fund our fire fighters and Bear River Health Department staff to administer vaccines, above and beyond their normal shift work,” according to Mike DeSimone, the director of Logan’s Community Development Block Grant Program.
The clinics will begin, he added, as soon as additional supplies of the vaccines made by pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna become available locally.
In a memo to the city council, DeSimone recommended that the CARES Act funds be jointly used by the Logan City Fire and Bear River Health departments to establish “a series of Community Coronavirus Vaccine Clinics in the city’s fire stations.”
Those clinics will be staffed by LCFD personnel to administer the immunization shots. They will take place outside the LCFD employees’ normal work schedules and will utilize both off-duty firefighters and temporary hires. Bear River health officials will provide staffing to support the administrative aspects of the vaccination program.
“The city also plans to fund a mobile vaccination unit to reach those homebound residents who are unable to get to a vaccine site,” according to DeSimone.
During 2020, Logan City received two federal block grants totaling more than $500,000 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
The first of those grants, in the amount of nearly $300,000, was awarded in early spring of last year.
“At that time,” DeSimone says, “the rates of infection and hospital utilization were relatively low and were not taxing our local health care system. The most significant impacts of the pandemic (up to that point) had been economic impacts due to job losses, job reductions, wage reductions, loss of income, business and event closures along with the mental health impacts resulting in great demand on social services.”
The city responded to those concerns by funding emergency food and shelter efforts, rental assistance, supplies of personal protective equipment, telehealth systems and support for local non-profit groups.
When the second block grant of more than $207,000 was received in September, city officials decided to delay its allocation in anticipation of changing pandemic conditions, including the possibility of higher infection rates, additional business closures, increased job losses, etc.
Given the current promise of increasing availability of COVID-19 vaccine, city officials recommended and the city council approved the allocation the full amount of the second block grant to the LCFD/BRHD immunization clinics.
“This responds to an immediate need to provide CIOVID-19 vaccines,” DeSimone said, justifying the recommendation by city officials. “It clearly fits the purpose (of CARES Act) funding, will help the Bear River Health Department facilitate the administration of vaccines to Logan residents and (can be) mobilized almost immediately in response to increased supplies of vaccines.”
Council members also designated local non-profit groups – including Little Lambs, the Cache Community Food Pantry and Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Abuse – to receive any unused funds from the second grant award.