COEUR d'ALENE, Idaho - As vaccines are making their way into more people's arms across the gem state, Idaho Governor Brad Little and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced three things Tuesday that could speed up the vaccine distribution process.
Governor Little announced he will increase the number of Idaho National Guard personnel from 250 to 400 to assist in vaccine distribution.
“Our women and men in the Idaho National Guard have stepped in to meet critical needs at healthcare facilities across Idaho since the fall, and the availability of additional guardsmen to assist with vaccine distribution moving forward will help us even more in the pandemic fight,” Governor Little said.
Governor Little also announced that the state of Idaho will offer health care providers new grants to more quickly administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
The new grant is called COVID-19 Vaccine Capacity, Safety, and Reporting Grant, the funding can be used to increase staffing, purchase needed equipment and supplies and improve vaccine access for vulnerable populations.
Little said the amount each enrolled healthcare vaccine provider will receive is based on the number of doses they administer.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare also addressed a concern from last week.
The concern was that Idaho would not be receiving doses from the federal reserve.
Tuesday, IDHW said that was just a rumor.
"The federal government is assuring that there are second doses for every allocation that we get weekly," said Sarah Leeds, with IDHW. "They have reserved the second dose so our providers don't need to ration other doses."
In Kootenai County, Panhandle Health District opened a larger vaccination site at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds last week.
IDHW said these larger sites are popping up throughout the site which is speeding up vaccinations.
IDHW said in the last 48 hours, statewide they have administered 9,000 doses.
Which is up 48 percent then the week prior.
IDHW said Tuesday, in Kootenai County 6,105 people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 518 people are fully vaccinated.
They added that weekly they are receiving 20,950 doses of the vaccine statewide.
IDHW said they are already seeing some positive effects from the vaccines.
"We are seeing less people out sick, so we are hoping the first thing to see is helping health care capacity," said Dr. Chris Hahn, with IDHW.