Priority groups established by state for COVID-19 vaccinations

Monday, January 11, 2021

The biggest question of 2021 so far, at least the one addressed to those in the health care world, has been: “When can I get vaccinated against COVID-19?”

The answer varies from state to state. In Iowa, as of today, those who work in health care or are a resident of a long-term care facility, are eligible to schedule and receive a vaccine. Those in the next priority groups are identified; however, a time frame has not been announced by the state for the next round of vaccination opportunities.

“In our state, the Iowa Department of Public Health is following the CDC priority recommendations with the goal of consistently offering the vaccine to priority groups at the same time across each of the 99 counties,” said Colette Rossiter, coordinator for Clay County Public Health. “Currently in the state, by order of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Vaccine Shortage Order, only people in Phase 1A are eligible to be vaccinated. This includes health care personnel and residents of long-term care centers.”

Rossiter said Clay County initially received 600 doses just prior to Christmas of Moderna vaccine to administer to health care workers. This week another 200 doses were delivered; again, directed for immunization of health care personnel.

“We are close to having immunized everyone in the healthcare personnel category who has opted to receive the vaccine at this time,” Rossiter said. “If an eligible health care worker has not scheduled an immunization time and would like to be vaccinated, we encourage them to contact our public health office to schedule soon.

She added, “We’re anxious to begin offering immunization to the next priority tier, enabling more local citizens to be protected against COVID-19; however, we must wait until the state directs us to do so and sufficient vaccine supply is provided. It’s essential that health departments in all 99 counties are consistent in who is offered vaccination opportunities.”

The next priority group identified by the CDC based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices represents a large number of people. Rossiter said that on a state level, there may be further definition of who is eligible to be vaccinated and potentially priority tiers identified within the priority group.

As vaccine availability increases, vaccination recommendations will expand to include more groups and will become more widely available, with many pharmacies also offering immunizations.

Clay County Public Health, with assistance from Spencer Hospital, is planning community immunization clinics as larger population groups become eligible to be vaccinated. The clinics will be widely communicated to the public. Individuals will be scheduled vaccinations time to ensure an orderly process and to promote social distancing.


Current CDC Recommendations for Phase 1B and 1C

Phase 1B Priority Group

—Frontline essential workers such as fire fighters, police officers, corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, United States Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the educational sector (teachers, support staff and day care workers.)

—People aged 75 years and older because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness and death from COVID-19. People aged 75 years and older who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1A.


Phase 1C Priority Group

—People aged 65-74 years because they are at high risk of hospitalization, illness and death from COVID-19. People aged 65-74 years who are also residents of long-term care facilities should be offered vaccination in Phase 1A.

—People aged 16-64 years with underlying medical conditions which increase the risk of serious, life-threatening complications from COVID-19.

—Other essential workers, such as people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, media, public safety and public health.

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