Despite some unexpected delays in the Phase 1B vaccine rollout, Jasper County Health Department Administrator Becky Pryor says the region will receive 500 doses each week until the end of February.
It is likely these vaccinations will be administered to people ages 65 and older, whom Pryor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider to be an “at-risk” population, accounting for many of the COVID-19-related deaths across the nation. They are one of the main focuses of this new phase.
Pryor estimates there are 7,000 people ages 65 and older living in Jasper County.
“Most of them have been in the long-term care facilities or congregate living settings that have died from COVID-19, so we know those are definitely the at-risk individuals,” Pryor said. “And since we have limited vaccines, we really dove in and just tried to get as many of those people vaccinated as we could.”
Before the start of Phase 1B, Jasper County was informed it would only receive about 300 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, far fewer than the 1,000 acquired at the beginning of Phase 1A. Pryor was hoping for 1,000 to 2,000 for the second phase to help the approximately 8,000 to 9,000 eligible people.
About 4,000 people in Jasper County have received COVID-19 vaccines so far; 900 of which had their second dose.
By receiving as many as 500 doses each week, teachers working in Jasper County’s five public school districts will begin their first phase of vaccinations. Originally, school districts had planned for their employees to be inoculated at on-site immunization clinics, organized in collaboration with local medical providers.
However, the short supply of vaccines prevented those plans from happening on time. Newton Community School District scheduled three days of vaccinations at its district office. With the help of Newton Clinic staff, the district was to administer more than 300 vaccines Feb. 1-3.
NCSD Superintendent Tom Messinger told Newton News those vaccination times have been rescheduled to Feb. 18 and 19.
Newton Clinic will be working alongside the Newton school district to administer vaccines; Medicap Pharmacy will be handling the Colfax-Mingo and Baxter school districts; Prairie City Medical Clinic is in charge of PCM; and Sully Medical Clinic will take care of Lynnville-Sully.
“We’re just trying to get enough vaccines on hand to do those individuals and not have to reschedule, but we already did it once thinking we were going to get enough vaccine and we’ve had to reschedule,” Pryor said.
To cover all the school districts in Jasper County, Pryor says the health department needs 700-800 doses.
“We are planning those right now to allocate some of our doses to the schools, because we know how important it is that we keep the schools open and going and get the kids back in school,” Pryor said.
Newton Clinic Administrator Mark Thayer added, “Based on what allocation we have coming in, we have pretty good belief that we’ll be able to take care of the people we have scheduled for next week … As soon as we get the vaccine allocated to us, we’re going to get it out and get it in the arms.”
Iowa’s first responders are also included in the Phase 1B priority population. Pryor said the county health department has administered as many doses to area police officers and firefighters as they could, noting the low number of doses needed to cover that population.
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org