Additional vaccine doses not making it to public health

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Jones County Public Health (JCPH) Coordinator Jenna Lovaas expressed some concern and frustration to the Jones County Supervisors in an e-mailed letter to the board, as well as during the Feb. 16 board meeting.

     Lovaas said it seems as though the state and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) are constantly changing the rules when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.

     A couple of weeks ago, five counties in Iowa were told they would not be receiving their weekly allocation of the vaccine due to the fact that they did not use up at least 80 percent of what they had on hand. A couple of those affected counties had legitimate excuses as to why they had not used up their full vaccine allocation. Lovaas said one county had a vaccine clinic scheduled when the state made the announcement about the doses. At that clinic, all of the doses would be used up. Also, another county was forced to cancel a clinic due to the weather.

     Lovass assured the supervisors that she is confidant Jones County would have no problem meeting that 80-percent threshold.

     Another issue at hand, while the federal government increased its vaccine dosage allocations across the country, Iowa is choosing not to pass those additional doses onto county public health agencies. Instead, Hy-Vee stores are receiving those extra doses. This creates a problem for those 65-plus who live in rural areas and have to drive long distances to get to a Hy-Vee. Also, Hy-Vee is only allowing appointments for the vaccine for those who schedule an appointment online. No over-the-phone appointments. Some elderly people don’t have access to a computer.

     JCPH will continue to offer Saturday vaccine clinics by appointment only. They are working with JETS if transportation is an issue for some residents.

     Lovaas asked the supervisors to contact the state legislators and the Governor’s Office, expressing local frustrations with the current vaccination methods.

     “At this point,” Lovaas noted during the board meeting, “the more noise we make the better. This adds an extra layer of stress.”

     Lovaas added that she’s been on communication with her public health counterparts across the state, and they are just as frustrated. And despite expressing concerns, they don’t seem to be making a difference.

     The last clinic in Jones County saw 190 people. The family practice clinics have vaccinated over 300 people ages 65-plus.

     “It’s been a good week for vaccines and we’re ready to go this week,” Lovaas said.

     While the primary care providers are focusing on the 65-plus age group, JCPH is still working to vaccinate those in Phase 1B, Tiers 1 and 2, as well as new healthcare providers. Tier 1 includes: first responders, PreK-12 school staff and childcare providers. Tier 2 includes: those working in food, agriculture, manufacturing, congregate settings, those with disabilities, and care staff.

     Supervisor Ned Rohwedder asked about the timeframe concerning when JCPH can plan for its vaccine clinics based on how many doses it has.

     “It keeps changing,” Lovaas said of the allotment.

     Rohwedder also praised the volunteers at the clinic held in Anamosa.

     “It was very well run and people were very considerate,” he said.

     The 14-day positivity rate in Iowa and Jones County continues to decline below 10 percent: 7.1 and 5.4 percent respectively.

     There are currently zero Jones County Residents hospitalized because of the virus. Positive case number counts include:

     • Four cases in the last three days

     • Nine cases in the last seven days

     • 31 cases in the last 14 days

     “We’re averaging about two cases a day,” Lovaas said.


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