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Shots in the arm

More than 2,600 doses of vaccine administered in Hamilton County

Hamilton County Public Health continues to receive about 300 doses of COVID-19 vaccine each week and to date have received a total of 2,500 doses, officials told the Board of Health Thursday night.

Shelby Kroona, public health administrator, told the board that her department and its health care partners at Van Diest Family Health Clinic, Iowa Specialty Clinic and McFarland Clinic have been able to administer a total of 2,619 doses.

“I know that doesn’t add up but remember that with the Moderna product, we can draw out and extra dose here and there,” she said. “That’s why we’re looking at 2,619.”

Kroona said it’s been a relief working with the clinic partners. In February, the health department focused on administering booster doses, while the clinics started with primary doses for those over age 65.

“We’ve been getting 300 doses a week and we’ve shared 100 doses with the hospital and 50 doses each to the smaller clinics. And then we’ve retained 100 doses and have done some targeted groups,” she said.

A total of 626 Hamilton County residents have received both the first and second dose.

One difficult issue is the fact that the health department is never sure if they will receive the full 300 doses each week.

“We are fairly certain we will receive the 300 doses, but we don’t know for sure until its been allocated,” she said. “It’s very hard to plan clinics because until Tuesday or Wednesday, we don’t know if we’re getting 200 doses or 300 doses

“Then we have to start planning very quickly on Thursday and Friday, calling people to get them scheduled for the next Wednesday’s clinic.”

Kroona said that of the vaccines delivered, 19 percent had been given to those in the 60 to 69 age range, 26 percent were in the 70 to 79 age group and 21 percent in the age 80 and older range.

“We are delivering the vaccine to the highest risk population who could have the worst outcomes (should they contract COVID-19),” she said.

Kroona said that they have also administered vaccine to teachers in the South Hamilton district and from Webster City schools.Additionally, her department has been working with daycare providers, firefighters and EMS workers.

“We’ve done a good job delivering the vaccine to who needs the vaccine in our community,” she said.

Currently, public health is conducting closed clinics, meaning that the clinics are not open to just anyone who wished to walk in for a vaccine. She said the clinics are calling patients to set up vaccine appointments.

“Eventually, we’ll be able to move to a system where people either register online or can walk in to get a vaccine,” she said. “But we’re not at that point yet due to the limited doses of vaccine we receive.” The county is still working with Tier 1, she added.

Kroona also talked to the Board about Senate File 193, a bill she called a “real detriment to public health.”

“The public health association I belong to has done an action alert and we have been speaking out with our representatives,” Kroona said, adding that the measure threatens immunization coverage in Iowa.

One of the provisions of the bill would prevent hospitals, clinics and care facilities from requiring staff members to be immunized.

“So you could have unvaccinated staff working in nursing homes, clinics or hospitals,” she said.

The bill also adds a philosophical exemption to the current exemptions for religious and medical reasons.

“There’s evidence from other states that have introduced this nonmedical exemption and they have seen their immunization coverage drop,” she said.

Kroona said she has been in contact with Rep. Rob Bacon, sharing her concerns about the bill.

“We haven’t seen measles, mumps, rubella in years. So people don’t think they are a threat and don’t realize how debilitating some of these can be and that children do die from these diseases,” she said.

She encouraged the board members to talk with legislators about the bill.

“It’s really about getting the word out and educating people,” she said.

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