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The Scarlet & Black

Poweshiek County begins new wave of vaccine distributions

Emily Pftisch, along with members of assisted living communities around the county, have been some of the first people to receive the vaccine. Photo contributed by The Mayflower.

COVID-19 vaccination is proceeding apace in Poweshiek County, although thousands of residents are still waiting for their first dose of the vaccine.  

For most residents, vaccines are being administered by public health teams from Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC), according to Leah Van Rees, marketing communication supervisor at GRMC. The hospital does not have freezers capable of maintaining the -60 degrees Celsius required for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, so as of now residents will only be receiving the Moderna vaccine which can be stored at temperatures between -25°C and -15°C .  

Individuals who are now eligible to be vaccinated, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, are members of Phase 1B Tier 1, which includes first responders, teachers from preschool to 12th grade, others who work with children and everyone aged 65 or older. Because of supply limitations, not everyone in the group will be able to receive the vaccine immediately. 

Residents and staff of retirement communities in Poweshiek County like the Mayflower Community are receiving vaccines through a separate federally-administered program.   

According to Bob Mann, sales and marketing director at Mayflower, 325 vaccine doses were administered by CVS Pharmacy employees at the community’s latest vaccination day on Feb. 5. Most staff members and assisted living residents have now received two doses, and almost all residents have received at least one dose. 

Even though the vaccine rollout is still in its early stages, progress is being made in Poweshiek County. According to IDPH data as of Feb. 7, 1,260 Poweshiek County residents — about seven percent — have received a first vaccine dose, and of those, 389 have received their second dose. That puts the county ahead of Iowa’s statewide vaccination rate of five percent, but behind the United States’ overall rate of about eight percent, according to Centers for Disease Control data.  

The percent of the population vaccinated in Poweshiek County, Iowa and the United States.

 On Feb. 1, the first Phase 1B Tier 1 clinic was held in Grinnell, resulting in the vaccination of 200 people. Those being vaccinated under the current guidelines will join those who already received the vaccine in Phase 1A, including medical workers and care home residents, most of whom have already received at least one dose. 

Next in line for vaccines are those in Phase 1B Tiers 2-5, including essential workers in food, agriculture and manufacturing, government officials, those with disabilities and incarcerated people and corrections staff. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has yet to set a timeline for the transition to later tiers, but an increase in the number of vaccines received each week is expected.  

“We are anticipating a more consistent allocation of COVID-19 vaccine to Poweshiek County in the coming weeks and months,” wrote Van Rees in an email to The S&B.   

The next vaccine clinic will take place on Feb. 10 in Brooklyn; all appointments for this clinic have already been filled.  

Even though vaccination now shines as the light at the end of a year-long COVID-19 tunnel, there is still a long way to go.   

“The greatest challenge facing Poweshiek County Public Health and all public health departments right now is the widespread COVID-19 vaccine shortage,” wrote Van Rees. “When the vaccine becomes more widely available, we have local pharmacies and clinics that are poised to help administer the COVID-19 vaccines to their patients and our community members.”  

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