State urging 80% vaccine usage in counties

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – With Iowa lagging behind 46 other states in getting people vaccinated, a Lee County health official said the state is urging better performance.

During Monday’s regular Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting, Lee County Health Department administrator Michele Ross said state officials are telling counties to get 80% of their doses utilized if they want to continue current rates of allocations.

“Anyone that receives vaccines in the county will have to get 80% into someone’s arms or our allocations may have to go to another county,” Ross said.

“If the weather cooperates I don’t see that as a problem, but with this weather it could present a few problems and I think the state will recognize that.”

During the last two drive-thru clinics held Tuesday and Thursday, specifically for county residents 65 and over, the county distributed more than 500 doses.

Health officials continue to do second round dosing for those in Phase 1A who have received their first inoculation.

Ross said because of the severe drop in temperatures, the health department is planning to move clinics indoors, but they won’t be able to do as many vaccinations.

“This week due to temperatures predicted we won’t be focusing on older adults because we don’t want them out for safety reasons. So we’ll be looking at Tier 1 priority groups and then get back to those folks next week hopefully,” Ross said.

State officials have asked counties to split the doses as evenly as possible between the tiers in Phase 1b and the general population 65 and older.

Ross said over the next few weeks the county will be focusing on the 65 and older, teachers and education staff, and first responders.

“Once that is saturated, we’ll move to Tier 2 while continuing with those 65 and older.”

The county also has set up arrangements with six county pharmacies, and area hospitals and clinics to begin vaccinations of those 65 and older as allocations increase. She said the hospitals are already doing some vaccinations.

‘The state is also working with Hy-Vees across Iowa to get them vaccines.,” Ross said.

“Those would be separate from our doses, so hopefully they will get vaccines as well to help with the 65 and over population.”

Lee County residents 65 and older who haven’t yet contacted the county about getting their vaccine should do so by calling 319-376-1077. LCHD is scheduling vaccinations off the list of calls received in the order they are received.

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting, supervisors:

• approved setting a Feb. 22, 2021 public hearing to enter into a loan agreement to borrow $3.2 million in general obligation bonds to combine existing jail and conservation debt with the current radio equipment financing to potentially save about $100,000 over the life of the combined debt.
• approved a 2nd reading of an ordinance creating a nine-member Pioneer Cemetery Commission to give oversight to the county’s pioneer cemeteries. Those are county cemeteries, according to Iowa law, that have not had more than 12 burials in the past 50 years. For passage, the ordinance requires one more approved reading.
• heard discussion on a possible services agreement with Des Moines County for snow removal services if workers are hit hard by the coronavirus and staffing is limited.
• tabled a discussion and possible offer to purchase property, equipment, and one ambulance from Lee County EMS due to negotiations not being complete.

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