Vaccines easing pressure on health care providers

Officials still expect spike in local numbers after holiday season


LEE COUNTY – Lee County is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Part of Lee County Health Department’s Phase 1A, Lee County has received the Moderna vaccine and has been able to administer it to more than 200 health personnel.

“Phase 1A entails distributing the vaccine to Health Care Personnel. HCP are defined as paid or unpaid persons in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials,” Michele Ross, Administrator of the LCHD, said.

Phase 1A also includes HCP working in residential care or long term care facilities and skilled nursing facility residents. The long term care facilities are part of the National Pharmacy Partnership program, and the pharmacy chain will directly coordinate vaccinations on site with the LTC facilities per their set schedule.

“We are continuing to vaccinate Phase IA HCP in the county, and we’ve been coordinating with our two local hospitals in the county who are also vaccinating HCP in Phase 1A,” Ross said.

Fort Madison Community Hospital is just one of the local hospitals LCHD has coordinated with.

“We have administered the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to 150 employees and continue to vaccinate daily,” Angie Budnik, Community Relations Director of FMCH, said.

The doses were initially handed out December 23rd, 2020. Those employees who received the first dose will then receive the second dose on January 20, 2021– 28 days after the first dose.

Being able to vaccinate employees has alleviated some concerns. “Vaccinating our employees alleviates some of our staffing concerns,” Budnik said. “Our main goal is to be able to care for the patients who need us when they need us.”

Regardless of warnings to stop travel during the holidays, there are some concerns.

“Time will tell if we will experience a new surge of cases/outbreaks due to the holidays which could be very likely from all the traveling and holiday gathering/events that occurred throughout the US,” Ross said.

However, the vaccine seems to alleviate some worries, and creates a hopeful approach to finding a cure to COVID-19.

“We still anticipate a spike after the holidays which we should see in the fallout within the next fourteen days,” Budnik said. “But, the vaccine gives us hope that we will soon have the virus under control, and we will not have to worry about spikes.”

With every new vaccine comes new side effects. Thus far, however, Moderna has proved to only produce mild side effects.

“We have received reports from a few employees who had minor side effects to the first Moderna vaccine, but they were manageable, and they are back at work,” Budnik said.

The CDC has set up an app called V-SAFE where those who have received the vaccine can record their experience and help the CDC track any concerns.

Corona numbers continue to fluctuate within the state. There have been a total of 4,065 deaths and 251,659 recoveries statewide.

In Lee County, 3,000 individuals have tested positive, 2,503 have recovered, and 28 have died.

In the past 7 days, an average of 12.4% of cases have come back positive. In the past 14 days, an average of 14.6% of cases have come back positive.

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