Vaccination of local health care workers continues

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Clay County just three days prior to Christmas and out of the 600 initial doses of the Moderna vaccine, more than half have been administered to front-line health care workers in the county as the initial vaccination effort continues.

“Spencer Hospital personnel began offering vaccine immediately Tuesday afternoon to front-line health care workers who come into contact with patients who have or may have COVID-19,” said Susan Zulk, spokesperson for Spencer Hospital. “This initial group of health care workers included hospital employees, EMS personnel and professionals at other medical practices and health care organizations within the county. Vaccination of health care workers continues this week and has been expanded to include health care workers who have indirect contact with patients. At this point, the number of people who have received their first dose of vaccine changes almost daily.”

As part of the CDC’s Phase 1a vaccination plan, long-term care facility residents and staff are also at the top of the list to receive vaccines, which is being managed through a national partnership with various pharmacies. They are currently expected to receive their first doses of vaccine this week.

“At this time, only health care personnel and long-term care residents are eligible to receive vaccination by order of the Iowa Department of Public Health's Vaccine Shortage Order,” Zulk said.

She continued, “Public health has not received an additional allocation of vaccine since the initial delivery. To immunize all health care workers in Clay County, more vaccine will be necessary; however, since the vaccine is not required, some personnel may opt to not get the vaccine or choose to be vaccinated at a later date.”

Once the beginning phase for vaccinations have been completed the CDC plan moves to Phase 1b, which include persons aged 75 and older as well as front-line essential workers.

“A timeline has not yet been announced for when vaccine will be available to immunize those populations,” Zulk said. “Also, since ‘front-line essential workers’ represents a large population of people, it's anticipated government officials will develop more specific definitions and prioritization within the 1b group.”

AVOIDING A POST-HOLIDAY COVID-19 SPIKE

Holidays are typically a time when gatherings take place and despite the potential risks of spreading COVID-19 it’s unlikely all holiday gatherings throughout the region were canceled. Zulk encouraged those who have spent time with others outside of their household to keep in contact with those individuals.

“Should someone in that group be diagnosed with COVID-19, it would be important that everyone be contacted and be advised to quarantine and also get tested,” Zulk said. “In general, everyone is encouraged to continue to practice the mitigation steps which we hope are routine with everyone: frequent and thorough hand washing; wear a mask over your mouth and nose when in proximity to others not within your own household; maintain a social distance; and avoid public areas where people may be unmasked.”

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