State asking local health officials to prepare for COVID vaccine

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – Lee County health officials are reviewing mass vaccination protocols and agreements, as part of a request from state health officials

On Wednesday Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross wrote that the state is indicating a vaccine could be ready, in limited doses, by late fall 2020.

Ross, responding to an email from the Pen City Current, included a FAQ from the Iowa Department of Public Health that indicated the IDPH anticipates the vaccine will be first available in late fall of this year.

Ross wrote that Lee County Health Department is continuing to stay informed of the changing environment of the state’s battle with the novel coronavirus, and COVID-19 including reviewing local strategies.

“LCHD continues to participate in scheduled state webinars, and the state has asked all local public health departments to begin preparing on a local level based on vaccination planning assumptions,” she wrote.  

“This planning will include local public health reviewing and updating their mass vaccination or Points of Dispensing (POD) plans as well as closed POD plans (agreements in place with health care organizations who could dispense vaccines once state or federal assets are received).   We will be looking at our vaccine storage and handling capacities, temperature monitoring protocols and devices, ancillary supply needs, and updating our mass vaccinations or POD plans.” 

“In summary, we have been asked to begin preliminary local planning with our health care partners for when COVID-19 vaccines are available and ready to administer.”

According to the FAQ, IDPH officials indicated that early results from the first COVID-19 vaccine tests in people show it worked as intended with no serious side effects.

Initially, supply issues may limit doses to certain priority groups such as health care workers, residents of long-term care centers and assisted living, and those who work in industries where social distancing is difficult.

The supply is expected to expand substantially in 2021 to the point where eventually anyone who wants the vaccine can receive it.

The state is also anticipating that the vaccine will be offered at no cost, although providers may charge a small fee to individuals or health insurance companies for administering the vaccine.

Vaccines contain the sames germs that cause disease, but in a weakened or dead state so they don’t make you sick, according to the IDPH.

But even after being vaccinated the state is encouraging individuals to continue to wear a mask because of the time required for the vaccine to affect a body to produce antibodies. In some cases, COVID-19 may require two doses to provide the best protection.

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