Linn County residents aged 65 and older can begin receiving a COVID-19 vaccine on a limited basis starting Tuesday, county public health officials announced.
Residents interested in getting a shot will have to schedule an appointment — but because availability of the vaccine is very limited at this time, officials warn those appointments will fill up quickly.
Beginning Monday, residents who qualify will receive a vaccine from their primary care provider, which includes those associated with MercyCare Clinics and UnityPoint Health Clinics as well as “several independent health care providers.”
Patients will be contacted by their primary care provider to schedule an appointment, unless your provider is at MercyCare Clinics. Mercy patients are asked to schedule an appointment online through the MercyCare website.
Those who do not have a primary care provider will be assisted by Linn County Public Health. They should call (319) 892-6097 for assistance.
» When can you get a vaccine? Check this chart to find out.
It’s unknown when Johnson County will begin administering vaccines to this group. County public health officials told The Gazette that the public should expect information from them sometime this week.
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Linn County Public Health will have only 800 doses of the vaccine on hand this week, “a fraction of our population that’s 65 and older,” said Heather Meador, clinical services supervisor at Linn County Public Health. Because of that, it may be some time before some residents get an appointment, Meador warned.
“We ask our community to be patient as we all work to vaccinate as many individuals as possible given the vaccine availability. Additional appointments will open as more vaccine becomes available,” officials said in a news release Monday.
Individuals should not call their doctor’s office to request a vaccine because “a high volume of calls will make it difficult for these providers to address patients with the most immediate needs,” officials stated.
Meador also noted there is no waiting list or registry for individuals to sign up to receive a vaccine at this time.
Iowans aged 65 and older qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, and can receive a shot at any stage during the rollout, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced this past week.
Linn County officials say they also are preparing to begin administering vaccines to essential workers and other at-risk populations that qualify under Phase 1B on Feb. 1.
Priority for Phase 1B populations outside of those aged 65 and older is broken into five tiers, starting first with first responders, Pre-K-12 school staff, early childhood education and child care workers.
Meador said 50 percent of the county’s vaccine allocation will go to the tier one population.
The remaining four tiers under Iowa’s Phase 1B plan are:
• Food, distribution and manufacturing workers in congregate settings as well as individuals with disabilities in home settings and their caregivers
• Staff and residents of congregate settings and government officials
• Health, life and safety inspectors
• Correctional facility staff and inmates.
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The effort to vaccinate individuals under Phase 1A — which includes front-line health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents — still is underway. Earlier this month, Meador said it could take months to vaccinate individuals who qualify under both Phase 1A and 1B based on the current vaccine supply.
The state currently receives about 19,500 vaccine doses per week. More than 660,000 Iowans qualify under Phase 1B, according to state estimates.
As individuals wait for their vaccine, Meador said Linn County Public Health recommends residents take stricter measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
New recommendations include limiting interaction with non-household members and limiting social gatherings to 25 people or less, or to 25 percent of the room capacity.
Meador said bars and restaurants should limit capacity to 50 percent and to not allow seating or ordering at the bar.
Other businesses should encourage employees to work from home if they can do so.
More information about the COVID-19 vaccine effort in Linn County can be found on the public health department’s website, linncounty.org/1372/COVID-19.
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