COVID-19 vaccinations begin at UIHC as 60 new deaths are reported in Iowa

Frontline healthcare workers at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics started receiving COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday morning. Vaccination programs around the country have begun following the FDA’s emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine Friday night.

Emergency room RN David Conway was the first person at UIHC to receive the vaccine.

“How’d it feel?” one of the reporters present for the vaccination called out as soon as the needle was out of Conway’s arm.

“Excellent,” Conway said.

It is the first of two doses Conway will need. According to the testing data, the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine should be administered 21 days after the first one. The COVID-19 vaccine by Moderna, which is expected to receive emergency use authorization later this week, requires two doses separated by 28 days.

UIHC said on Monday it had received approximately 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in its first shipment. According to Iowa Department of Health Interim Director Kelly Garcia, the state expects another shipment of the Pfizer vaccine next week, along with its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine. Iowa is scheduled to receive approximately 172,000 doses of the two vaccines by the end of the month.

IDPH’s plan calls for frontline medical workers to be vaccinated first. Also in the first group to be vaccinated are residents of long-term care facilities and their caregivers. Vaccinations at long-term care facilities will begin the week of Dec. 28, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

On Monday morning, IDPH added another nursing home to its list of long-term care facilities with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. At 10 a.m., the department was reporting 144 of the state’s 432 long-term care facilities were experiencing outbreaks.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations declined again on Monday, with IDPH reporting 764 confirmed cases in Iowa’s hospitals. Seventy-six of those patients had been admitted during the preceding 24 hours, and 160 of them were being treated in intensive care units.

The number of new cases of the virus IDPH reported on Monday dropped sharply. Between 10 a.m. on Sunday and 10 a.m. on Monday, the department confirmed another 665 cases of the virus. That is the lowest number of new cases reported in a 24-hour period since Oct. 19, when the department reported 508 cases. It was only the fourth day since Oct. 19 the department has reported fewer than 1,000 new cases.

The new cases reported on Monday morning included 18 residents of Johnson County and 30 residents of Linn County, and pushed the total number of Iowans who have tested positive for the virus so far to 256,913.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 reported on Monday remained high, however, as IDPH disclosed another 60 Iowans had died from the virus. Among the deceased was a resident of Johnson County and two residents of Linn County. The newly reported deaths increased Iowa’s COVID-19 death toll to 3,273.

Speaking after receiving his vaccination, Conway said, “I’d like the public to know the vaccine is the right choice, and it’s a great way to get ahead of this virus.”

Conway said the vaccination “was fast, it was painless and it’s the right thing to do.”

He added that receiving the vaccine “really brings into a full awareness the extent of the virus and how much damage it is really doing, not only to the elderly, but to people of all walks of life and all ages.”

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