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COVID-19 Vaccination Questions and Answers

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January 28, 2021 – Dickinson County Public Health (DCPH) is beginning the vaccination process for people identified by the Iowa Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) Phase 1B, Tier 1 grouping. Many people have called DCPH asking questions about the vaccination process and when they can receive the vaccine. Here are common questions asked:

 

Who is able to get the COVID vaccine now? 

The IDPH has implemented a phasing system for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The first phase, known as Phase 1A, included healthcare workers, volunteer EMS providers, and long-term care/assisted living residents. DCPH began vaccinating these people on December 23 and at this point many of the people in this group have completed their (two dose) vaccination series. The second phase is known as Phase 1B and has been broken down into five steps known as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4, and Tier 5. The tiers are critical infrastructure groups and the 65+ age group that will be offered the opportunity to vaccinate through each of the five tiers. DCPH is working diligently to address Dickinson County’s senior population in Tier 1 and will continue to support this large population through all Phase 1B tiers. IDPH told health providers they could administer the vaccine to people in Phase 1B, Tier 1 beginning in February. This group includes people ages 65 and older, first responders, education staff, and childcare workers. DCPH is working to risk stratify everyone in this group and approach vaccine distribution in a thoughtful, responsible way. Their goal is to vaccinate those most vulnerable to COVID-19 first. They base vulnerability on both a person’s health condition and age. DCPH has received this information via a questionnaire on Lakes Regional Healthcare’s website (www.lakeshealth.org) and Facebook page. They have also received this information from people who have called them at 712-339-6050 instead of completing the online questionnaire.

 

When can I get the COVID vaccine?

When you can get the COVID vaccine depends upon how much vaccine DCPH receives and how vulnerable you are to having a bad outcome from COVID-19. DCPH takes several things into consideration when they contact people to say they are eligible to get the COVID vaccine. First, they take all the information they have from those that have called in or completed the online questionnaire and determine their risk level or vulnerability to COVID-19 based on their health conditions and age. Then they risk stratify everyone based on that information. At that point, they wait to see how much vaccine they receive from the state and start going down the list, little by little. DCPH is not guaranteed to receive vaccine each week, nor do they usually receive much if it is received. In fact, so far they have received an average of 200 doses each week. For these reasons, they cannot give people a specific date or timeframe regarding when they can get the COVID vaccine. DCPH can only encourage people to complete the online questionnaire and trust that they will contact you when you are able to get the vaccine.

 

Do I need to be on some list to get the vaccine?

Ideally, you would complete the online questionnaire at www.lakeshealth.org so DCPH can put you on their vaccine list according to your age and health conditions. However, you can also call 712-339-6050 to give them this information as well.

 

I don’t have a computer to fill out the questionnaire. How can DCPH know to contact me when I’m eligible to receive the vaccine? 

You can call DCPH at 712-339-6050 to give them the information that is asked on the questionnaire. Once you are able to get the vaccine, DCPH will call you.

 

What if I’m not 65 or older and not in Tier 1 but have cancer or other health conditions that make me vulnerable to COVID-19? When can I get the vaccine?

Those that are 18 to 64 years of age with underlying health conditions are likely to be covered in Phase 1C. The official parameters of this priority group have not yet been released by the IDPH or the Iowa Infectious Disease Advisory Council.

 

How will I know when I can get the vaccine? 

DCPH will email or call you when you are able to get the vaccine, if you had previously completed the online questionnaire at www.lakeshealth.org or called DCPH with the information that is asked on the questionnaire. Otherwise you may know what groups of people are able to get the vaccine, according to IDPH and CDC guidelines, by seeing posts on Lakes Regional Healthcare’s Facebook page and in local newspapers and radio stations.

 

How come younger, healthier people have had the vaccine before me? 

IDPH guidelines were to vaccinate people in Phase 1A first, which included healthcare workers and EMS volunteers. Many of these people were under age 65 but were highly likely to encounter people with COVID-19.

 

Why are people in other states getting the vaccine faster than me? 

The federal government gives the state departments of public health vaccine doses based on the state’s population. The state health departments then also distribute the vaccine to individual counties based on population. The individual county public health departments then decide how to distribute the vaccine to the county’s population, whether it is strictly based on age or occupation or health conditions or a combination. The IDPH has certain regulations on the types of people that can get the vaccine when, which is why Iowa is currently in Phase 1B, Tier 1. DCPH is considering all criteria – age, occupation, health conditions – to risk stratify those in Dickinson County so those most vulnerable to COVID-19 get the vaccine first. People in other states or other counties may be receiving the vaccine more quickly due to their population or the criteria their state has decided to use to distribute the vaccine.

 

When are COVID vaccine clinics scheduled? 

The COVID vaccine clinics are scheduled a few times each week from Monday through Friday, but they are not on a consistent schedule at this point. The ability for DCPH to schedule COVID vaccine clinics is dependent on vaccine availability. Each week they are told by IDPH if they will receive vaccine for the next week or not. On average, they’ve received 200 doses each week, which takes one to two clinic days to administer to people. COVID vaccine clinics are currently held on Lakes Regional Healthcare’s campus in the space previously occupied by Lakes Family Practice, which is in the northwest corner of Lakes Regional Healthcare’s building.

 

When will people in Phase 1B, Tier 2 be able to get the vaccine? 

The timeline for vaccinating people, regardless of phase or tier, is very fluid based on the amount of vaccine doses DCPH receives from the state. For this reason, they now like to refer to a “doseline” instead of a “timeline.” DCPH hopes to start receiving a much larger quantity of doses as Tier 1 is vaccinated, but time will tell if that actually occurs to be able to start vaccinating Tier 2 that much quicker.

 

To stay updated on COVID-19 vaccination in Dickinson County, please follow Lakes Regional Healthcare online at www.lakeshealth.org, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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