Who’s next? A look at who is next on the vaccine pyramid

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

LE MARS — Plans for the next phase of the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine are being put into place by Floyd Valley Healthcare under guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Phase 1B is set to begin Feb. 1 with a broader reach of those who will qualify for receiving the vaccine.

Any person age 75 or older will immediately qualify as well as specific subsets of the population under that age who are vulnerable to high risk of exposure or severity of the illness.

Included are: individuals with disabilities living in a home setting who are dependent on attendant care staff who were not covered in Phase 1A; correctional facility staff and individuals incarcerated; staff and individuals living in congregate settings including shelters, sober living homes, behavioral health treatment centers and detention centers, but excluding college dormitories; food, agricultural, distribution and manufacturing workers who work or live in congregate settings that do not allow social distancing; PK-12 school staff, early childhood educators and childcare workers; first responders including firefighters, police officers and social workers; inspectors responsible for health, life and safety including those in hospital, long-term care and food production; and government officials engaged in state business at the Iowa Capitol.

FVH Community Health Manager Tara Geddes said workers in local grocery stores and manufacturing businesses do qualify under the 1B population.

“It includes grocery store workers, anybody that works in production lines where social distancing is not able to occur, any manufacturing type position,” Geddes said. “Wells, BoDeans, Nor-Am, Dean Foods, all of them would qualify.”

Appointments will be required for the Floyd Valley group clinic dates from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Feb. 10 and 11, Feb. 17 and 18 and Feb. 24 and 25. Those appointments can be made by calling 712-546-3646.

“There is a dedicated line that they will call to schedule and then they will come in for their appointment,” Geddes said. “This would be anyone 75 years of age and older as well as those that fall under the 1B population.”

It is asked that individuals do not overwhelm the appointment desk with general inquiries, as FVH will update the communities of additional steps in the vaccination process through all Plymouth County media, at FloydValley.org and its Facebook page.

FVH will not keep a waiting list of those wishing to be vaccinated. All vaccinations will currently be held at the scheduled clinic times and not on an individual basis. Clinic dates will be based on adequate vaccine supplies but are subject to change based on availability.

Those who qualify and have an appointment scheduled are requested to bring insurance information to their appointment as there will be an administration fee which will be covered by most insurance providers.

Those vaccinated will be required to remain for 15 minutes of observation after receiving the vaccine.

Most individuals will need to call to make an appointment, however, school educators will receive their vaccines at their schools and will not need to sign up for the group clinic dates, according to Geddes.

“We will do on-site at each of our schools throughout the county,” Geddes said. “All of the other groups we will be doing through the conference center here at Floyd Valley. There will also be additional opportunities in other medical clinics throughout the county.”

Medical clinics in Akron and Kingsley will also get some vaccine doses. Eventually, Geddes said the vaccine should become available at pharmacy locations as well.

“We are hoping to also be partnering with pharmacies in the month of February that would be available through Walmart, Hy-Vee or any pharmacy that is requesting it,” Geddes said. “As public health, we do allocations for the county and so our hope is our allocations for our county will increase so we have enough doses available that we can send some to Hy-Vee and Walmart and all of those types of pharmacies that are on the Iowa list that are eligible to get them. Once that happens, they will have their own scheduling process on how to do that, but as of right now, there are not vaccines there.”

Geddes said they only know about a week in advance what their next allotment will be.

“We have been told from Iowa Department of Public Health that we will get additional vaccine for that 1B population,” Geddes said. “The vaccine we currently have is set aside for the 1A population. We don’t know how many doses it’s going to be. We have predictions based on what our allocations have been for 1A, but we know about a week in advance how many doses we’re going to get.”

The initial phase, 1A, began in December with healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents prioritized to receive the vaccine first.

Across Iowa, 12,604 people have completed both shots in their vaccination regimen while another 117,406 have had their first dose as of data reported to the Iowa’s Immunization Registry Information System (IRIS) through Jan. 17.

IDPH stated it would need approximately 150-200,000 vaccine series (2 doses) to complete Phase 1A with the state being allocated 226,000 doses, or enough for 113,000 individuals.

So far there have been some delays in receiving the vaccine, but Geddes said they have received all of their anticipated allotment.

“We have gotten all of the shipments as expected,” Geddes said. “It obviously comes in a little bit slower than we would all like, but when the IDPH announces we are getting them, we’ve gotten them as expected.”

Within Plymouth County, 117 residents have completed both stages of the vaccination process, with all 117 of those being completed outside of the county, while another 750 have received their initial dose.

Geddes said the 1A phase has gone well.

“We’ve had full clinics for the most part every day that we’ve held them,” Geddes said. “In Plymouth County, we only have the Moderna vaccine at this time, so next week will be the first time that we can actually add to those completed numbers because the spacing for the Moderna vaccine is 28 days. We started vaccination right about Christmas time, so next week puts us at our 28 days and we hope to increase a lot more that have completed the series at that time.”

While some parts of the country have seen lower acceptance rates among their 1A groups, Geddes said Iowa has been above the national average in those wishing to and receiving the vaccine.

“Overall, it’s about a 60 to 70 percent average throughout the nation. In Iowa, it’s about 70 to 80 percent of our population is wanting the vaccine,” Geddes said. “It varies based upon everybody’s individual preferences, but comparatively speaking, to the national average, our state is above in acceptance. We hope to maintain that percentage of acceptance for the vaccine so as a community we can come together and be protected if we get enough people that are vaccinated.”

It is estimated that upwards of 70 percent of the total population would need to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.

For those who do not qualify under the 1A or 1B phases, the 1C phase is expected to begin sometime this spring. The population subsets who will qualify are still being decided.

“They’re still waiting on IDAC’s (Iowa’s Infectious Disease Advisory Committee) recommendation,” Geddes said. “They do meet every Monday so hopefully they will have some of those recommendations out here soon so we can get those out there to the public so they know when they will qualify for the vaccine.”

Above all, Geddes said she hopes the public remains patient as the vaccination process continues.

“It’s a lot of logistical things that we have to work out to make sure that we’re following all of the recommendations of the drug manufacturers and making sure that we can get this timely to all of our residents,” Geddes said. “We’re really just asking and thanking everybody for their patience as we work through this process. We know that it’s frustrating not knowing when people are going to get their vaccine. We are sharing information as soon as it is available to us. Right now it is just a very slow process and we’re just asking everybody to be patient and we will get it out there as fast as we can.”

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