State moves vaccine rollout to 65 and older

LCHD asking those now 65 and older to call to be added to list of eligible people

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – Iowa health officials have moved Phase 1B of COVID vaccine rollouts to include Iowans 65 and older, per a Centers for Disease Control recommendation made 10 days ago.

Governor Kim Reynolds made the announcement today as part of a press conference to update the state’s vaccine protocols and numbers.

Before Reynolds had finished the presser, Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross issued an updated statement indicating that those in the county 65 and older should be calling LCHD to get on their list of eligible people to receive the vaccine.

The LCHD release is printed in it’s entirety below.

Lee County Health Department was informed by the state health department at 11:00 am today that persons aged 65 and older will now also be included in Iowa’s phase 1B for COVID-19 vaccinations. Phase 1B will start in February 2021.
“LCHD is happy to adjust our local vaccination plans and will be prepared to include this age group in future scheduling” says Michele Ross, Administrator of LCHD. Currently LCHD has a growing list of over 800 people who have called with their contact information and waiting for an appointment. We will now accept information from those who are 65 years of age and older.
It is important to understand however, that LCHD will only schedule appointments by number of vaccines on hand each week starting in February. We estimate having 200 doses the first week in February therefore only 200 appointments will be scheduled from our call back list. We will schedule appointments every week by the number of vaccines on hand. As weekly vaccine supply increases, other vaccinators in the county will also assist with our campaign.
We will be following a tiered approach throughout all of phase 1B. We ask that everyone please be patient and as vaccine supplies increase, more people or groups will be scheduled accordingly. The infographic further explains this process
.

Reynolds said Iowa is currently getting 19,500 vaccines per week, but hopes to have an increase in doses available in the coming weeks.

She said all the state’s long-term care centers and assisted living facilities will be vaccinated by the end of the month. However she wasn’t clear if that was fully vaccinated with both doses. Montrose Health Center didn’t receive vaccinations until last week, so staff and residents there couldn’t be ready for the booster injection for a minimum of three weeks, well into February.

Positivity ratings for the virus in Iowa have steadily dropped over the past several weeks with a current 14-day positivity rate statewide of 11.2% and a 7-day of just 8.4%.

Hospitalizations are down with just 86 Iowans in ICU beds and 74% of those, according to Reynolds are older than 60.

A bill is currently in front of the legislature to mandate in-person learning at Iowa schools. The staff for K-12 schools are included in the tier system for Phase 1B, but Reynolds said she couldn’t guarantee vaccinations for that population before in-class learning is required, because she doesn’t know what the supply looks like.

“I can’t guarantee that because I don’t know what we’ll get in the way of vaccines. They are in Tier 1, but there are no guarantees because they can’t guarantee me what we will get,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds was asked why government officials and staff at the Capitol were moved up in the priority for vaccinations into Phase 1B and Reynolds said many would be caught in the other tiers, but they were moved up due to concerns over continuity of government.

Those working in the Capitol are still not required to wear masks.

The Governor also announced a new round of relief efforts for restaurants and bars. Through the Iowa Economic Development Authority the state will be offering $40 million in new grants. The application window will open through the IEDA on Feb. 1 and close Feb. 15. Reynolds said more information will be coming on the program next week.

Grants will be available for up to $25,000 tiered based on the percentage of lost sales in quarters 2 and 3 of 2020.

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