Northwest Iowa — We’re getting closer and closer to the day when we can all get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says that we are in Phase 1A until February 1st. Phase 1A is long-term care residents and healthcare personnel with direct patient contact who are unable to telework, including those who work in inpatient, outpatient, or community settings, who provide services to patients or patient’s family members, or who handle infectious materials. Health care personnel are defined as paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials. This includes EMTs, volunteers, hospice workers, and more.

Local health departments are reaching out to all healthcare personnel and want to ensure that they have an opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You are asked to inquire through your county health department.

Iowa will transition to Phase 1B on February 1st. That will include these groups:

• Persons age 75 and older
OR the following populations vulnerable to high risk of exposure or severity of illness:
• Individuals with disabilities living in home settings care staff
• Correctional facility staff and individuals incarcerated
• Staff of and individuals living in congregate settings (does not include College dormitories)
• Food, agriculture, distribution and manufacturing workers work in or live in congregate settings that do not allow for social distancing
• PK-12 school staff, early childhood education, and childcare workers
• First responders (e.g., firefighters, police officers, and child welfare social workers)
• Inspectors responsible for hospital, long-term care, and child safety
• Government officials, to ensure continuity of government including staff, to ensure continuity of government, engaged in state business at the Iowa Capitol during the legislative session

The Iowa Department of Public Health says that the transition to phase 1B on February 1 does not mean there will be enough vaccine available on that day to vaccinate every person in 1B. They say your patience is appreciated as health care providers across Iowa work to vaccinate these groups.

Kate Nagel is the clinic manager at Avera Merrill Pioneer Clinic in Rock Rapids. She tells us how they plan to handle this phase.

(as said:) “Once the Phase 1B information allocation has been announced we will be contacting our patients that fall into those categories to see if they would like the vaccine and if they do then we will work on scheduling them. That’s really kind of the only way to go about it. We will encourage people if they have questions if they don’t know what category they’re in if they fit the current category to please call our clinic we’d be happy to walk you through that, but that’s essentially what we’re going to be doing is just kind of going once we get that information we can kind of go that route.”

Lyon County Public Health nurse Melissa Stillson says their department — Health Services Of Lyon County — will be providing the vaccine to this group as well, as will Sanford Health.

Next is Phase 1C. State health officials tell us they are not releasing just who would be in Phase 1C at this time, and not to expect to start this phase until spring.

We asked Nagel how they plan to vaccinate the general public once the vaccine is available to them. We asked if there would be a drive-thru clinic.

(as said:) “Right now it will be in the clinic or in our facility just because it’s a relatively new vaccine. Obviously, they are wanting to monitor people post-vaccination, and with the drive-through that makes it a little bit more difficult, but we will be doing our mass vaccinations when that time comes in our clinic, so we’re able to adequately monitor people and be able to respond if necessary.”

She says other Avera facilities in Iowa will be handling the situation in similar ways, but there could be some differences due to local circumstances. She also says that it’s early in the process, so things could change between now and when the vaccine is available to the masses.

We’ve also reached out to Sanford Sheldon CEO Rick Nordahl, but he told us they were still working out the details on COVID vaccinations and would let us know when they were ready to release them.

If you have any questions you can call your provider or your county health department.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 at 3:39 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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