Vaccine hits BV: ‘Good to get this ball rolling’
Amid complaints about shortages of initial COVID-19 vaccine shipments and a slower rollout than projected around the country, Buena Vista County received its full first allotment of 500 doses. Providers went to work vaccinating the first level of recipients - health care workers - immediately.
“Iowa was supposedly short 35,000-40,000 doses, but our county got exactly what was expected,” Public Health Coordinator Pam Bogue said. “It was a nice Christmas present - a very good day when that vaccine arrived. We’re still seeing new cases every day here, and the sooner we get vaccine into arms, the quicker this pandemic many come to an end.”
The county followed its plan for using the initial shipment, though it isn’t enough to fully vaccinate everyone in the medical field - 734 people in the county, including dental, vision and mental health workers.
“All of us started giving the shots this week,” Bogue said of providers. “Of the people I’ve spoken to, it’s proving a little hard to talk people into it during the holidays, so there is a little hesitancy. We ran into places that closed early for Christmas and then ones that closed because of the blizzard Tuesday. It will really be full steam ahead right after the holidays.”
The vaccine comes 10 doses to a vial, and once the vial is open, all doses must be used within a few hours, so the planning must be done carefully to ensure none is wasted.
Public health workers took their vaccine Wednesday, with no side effects reported. “I didn’t feel anything at all. They say you might have a headache or a sore arm, but that is probably more likely with the second dose,” Bogue said of the follow up shot that comes a few weeks after the first.
Bogue said she is hopeful that promised supplies of vaccine will continue to arrive as expected - including the second dose to complete service to health workers being vaccinated now. A contract has been signed with Pfizer for more of its ultra frozen type of vaccine, she said, which could free up more of the Moderna-made vaccine that is in use in Buena Vista County.
“The Pfizer vaccine comes in units of 975 doses, so that is going to the urban health systems that can use that much at a time,” Bogue explained. “The Moderna vaccine is in units of 100 doses, and does not require the ultra frozen storage.”
After months of fears, Bogue says, “It’s good to get this ball rolling.”
It will be at least a few months before there is enough vaccine supply to begin serving the general public, however.
“There are several tiers of people to come first - long-term care, emergency management, police, independent living, those age 75 old and older, then 65 and older. For now we are going to locations instead of them coming to us - it’s just easier when you have something like a dentist office with seven people. I think we will be doing drive-ups next month, for somebody.”
Some misinformation circulating in the community concerns the public health leader.
“We need to remind people that you can’t get COVID from the shot - the vaccine is not a live virus, it’s not like the flu vaccine, the was it is developed is totally different,” Bogue said.
“Some people are saying it gets in your system and changes your DNA. Of course that’s not true, it isn’t in your system at that level. Other people feel it isn’t safe because it was developed quickly. The steps were all the same as a vaccine normally takes. They’ve actually had this concept of vaccine development for about the last 10 years, this is just the first opportunity to utilize it - it didn’t short cut anything.”
Meanwhile, while Bogue announced last summer that she would retire at the end of the year, she has agreed to stay on a few more months as the COVID vaccination gets underway.