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Linn County will begin offering COVID-19 vaccine to residents 65 and older starting Tuesday

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Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. — Arne Müseler

Linn County residents 65 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Tuesday, but vaccine supply remains limited, Linn County Public Health officials announced Monday.

MercyCare clinics, UnityPoint Health Clinics and various independent healthcare providers will begin contacting patients on Monday to provide an opportunity to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Residents should not call their clinics requesting a vaccine, and they should not walk into clinics to request the vaccine, LCPH Clinical Services Supervisor Heather Meador said during a news conference on Monday.

LCPH will help individuals without a primary care provider locate a vaccine provider. These individuals should call 319-892-6097 for assistance.

Appointments are required and are anticipated to fill quickly, Meador said.

“Linn County will only receive 800 doses of vaccine this week, which is a fraction of our population that is 65 and older,” Meador said. “We ask our community to continue to be patient as we all work to vaccinate as many individuals as possible given the vaccine availability. Additional appointments will open as more vaccine becomes available.”

Earlier this month, Meador explained how vaccines are arriving in Linn County “very slowly” and supply of the vaccine is “extremely limited.”

“Public health officials with the state of Iowa have reported that Iowa currently does not have enough vaccine to cover the 1A population in Iowa at this time,” Meador said during a news conference on Jan. 13. “Without an increase in vaccine supplies, we will not be able to offer all individuals identified in Phase 1A and 1B immunizations as quickly as anyone would like. It may be months until everyone in the first two phases are able to receive vaccines.”

Linn County has administered 13,852 doses of vaccine as of Jan. 22, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health. A total of 2,880 of the two-dose vaccination series has been completed by the county. (These numbers reflect how many doses have been administered by the county, which is different from how many Linn County residents have received the vaccine.)

Linn County continues to vaccinate individuals as part of Phase 1A, which includes healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes and their immediate caregivers. Meador previously mentioned how it might take Linn County longer to reach Phase 1B due to the county’s large healthcare workforce but shared on Monday that the county is preparing for Phase 1B, which will begin Feb. 1.

“The COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues to be a very fluid situation,” Meador said.

About 532,000 Iowans are eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1B. The phase is divided into five tiers in order of priority.

Tier one of Phase 1B includes first responders, including firefighters, police officers and child welfare social workers. Also included in tier one are school staff, early childhood education and childcare workers. Individuals 65 and older can receive the vaccine at any time during Phase 1B and future vaccine phases.

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“Tier one agencies and organizations will be asked to prioritize vaccine within their organization,” Meador said.

LCPH will designate 50 percent of the vaccine arriving to the county for individuals 65 years and older. The other half will go to the tier-one populations.

The five tiers of Phase 1B of vaccine distribution in Iowa. — Iowa Department of Public Health

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