First BV open vaccine clinic set for April 10, masks still recommended

Friday, April 2, 2021

Vaccine can be opened up to serve the general public in Iowa with no priority limits starting April 5th.

The first large local open clinic for all age 18 and over will begin on Saturday of next week, April 10, with about 550 doses of Moderna vaccine expected to be available from Buena Vista County Public Health. The clinic will be 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Storm Lake Elementary School, using Moderna vaccine which requires a later booster shot.

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BV Public Health’s Julie Sather expects open clinics to continue in future weeks as demand warrants. “This is your chance to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community,” she said. The state, once ranked low in vaccine distribution, is making rapid progress, and is now 7th in the U.S. in vaccination rate, she notes.

About 4,800 Buena Vista County residents - about 24 percent of the population - had been vaccinated for COVID-19 as of earlier this week, including 1,800 people age 65 and older. Another 1,400 have started the vaccination process.

Buena Vista County Public Health Administrator Julie Sather met with the county board of supervisors this week to update them on the situation.

The county requested additional Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine through the state and expects to receive 600 doses next week, but currently that brand of vaccine is only used by public health agencies for agricultural/manufacturing workers like Tyson and a small number of high-risk people, while HyVee pharmacy is able to request it for general use through federal policy. “At first people wouldn’t take it, now that’s all they want,” Sather said of the J&J vaccine.

Buena Vista County test positivity rates have recently been low, in the 2 percent range, but Sather warns that many people may no longer be willing to be tested, possibly skewing the numbers.

She is also concerned about the possibility of “a fourth wave” of illness, as many people are no longer wearing masks and social distancing. She noted that recent Meet the Mayor meetings at King’s Pointe gathered lots of people in close proximity in a small space, and restaurants are again busy with little distancing. “We’re at the point where we would see any impact from things like State Basketball and spring break,” she said. “People are sick of wearing masks, I’m sick of wearing a mask, but my feeling is that it isn’t quite time to stop yet. I think we’re getting a false sense of security from the people who have been vaccinated.”

This week, the department is revisiting nursing homes to determine if newer residents and staff may need vaccination as well as concentrating on booster shots. Another 400 Tyson employees have also decided to get vaccine.

Public Health is reaching out to the university and medical center to begin planning a vaccination campaign, and will meet with SALUD to seek help in reaching out to the diverse population of Storm Lake and BV County.

Iowans with barriers to scheduling a vaccine appointment or who do not have internet access who are 65 and older, or 64 and younger with an underlying health condition as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control, can now call 211 or (800) 244-7431 and a vaccine navigator will assist them with scheduling an appointment. Translation services are available.

“This is a great opportunity for people that do not have access to online registration.  Our local HyVee has doses available to cover people that register with 211,” Sather said.

Vaccine navigators are available 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by dialing 211 or (800) 244-7431 and selecting the vaccine prompt number 9.

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