As Iowa prepares to begin Phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccinations, many wonder if they could travel to nearby states to get the vaccine quicker

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 10:01 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center is almost done vaccinating its health care workers.

Robert Wethal, chief nursing officer, said, as long as they work in Iowa, it does not matter if they live in a different state.

However, he does not know if that is how Phase 1B, which is set to begin February 1 and will include people 65 and older, will work.

“It is a good question and it is also a question we are raising,” he said. ”I think the county is looking at that, but it is really probably going to be more based on what section you fall into.”

The Dubuque County Public Health Department is waiting for more guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) on whether they would be able to vaccinate people from out of the county, but it has begun preparing to vaccinate those in Phase 1B.

“They may say that if the healthcare is being given in the state of Iowa that we should vaccinate clients that are receiving healthcare in the state of Iowa,” she explained. “But again we have not received specifics on that as of yet.”

Governor Kim Reynolds announced on a press conference on Thursday that the state ranks in 46th place when it comes to the amount of doses it is being allocated by the federal government. She said that state receives over 19,000 doses of the vaccine weekly.

That has prompted Iowans to look into the possibility of getting the vaccine in nearby states, like Illinois or Wisconsin.

Wisconsin receives over 67,000 doses of the vaccine weekly.

The state is set to begin vaccinating people 65 and older on Monday, a week before Iowa is set to begin the process.

A representative with the Grant County Public Health Department said it will not be vaccinating people from out of the county.

The reason behind that decision is vaccine allocation. The federal government decides how many vaccines will go to the counties depending on population.

In Illinois, Joe Daviess County is preparing to start vaccinating people 65 and older on Monday.

“We are asking people to only come if they live or work in the county,” Sandra Schleicher with the local Public Health Department, said. “So if they live in Dubuque and work here they are definitely welcome, otherwise we are just trying to get our county residents first.”

But at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, things look a little different.

“Many of our patients, about 40 percent, come from Iowa and so that is very important to us that we will be able to vaccinate our Iowa patients,” Jenny Pritchett, chief medical officer, said. “We are right now, as of today, I just checked with Wisconsin DHS we are awaiting direction on that.”

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