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Linn County creates subgroups from Tier 1 in Phase 1B

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 7:34 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Linn County Department of Public Health has created subgroups to determine which people in the first tier of Phase 1B should receive the COVID-19 vaccine first.

The first tier of Phase 1B, which was created by the Iowa Department of Public Health and the governor’s office, is very broad. It makes first responders, childcare workers, and school staff in Preschool to High School eligible to get the vaccine. This guidance from Linn County creates a prioritized distribution scheduled for school employees.

The distribution schedule will ask schools to first focus on vaccinating school transportation staff along with teachers in preschools and elementary schools. The next group focuses on teachers and staff in middle schools, while High School teachers are in the following group.

Each district in the county sent a letter to school staff after a meeting between Linn County Superintendents and the Linn County Department of Public Health. Dr. Greg Batenhorst, who is the superintendent for the Mount Vernon Community School District, said the meeting happened because his staff was concerned about the slow rollout.

Batenhorst said his staff was concerned because other districts in other parts of the state began vaccinating people quicker than Linn County.

“We were losing credibility with our staff,” Batenhorst said. ”And not being able to give them good answers on when we would be receiving vaccines and why we were running at a slower pace than other areas.”

Batenhorst said the Linn County Department of Public Health blamed the delay on the national shortage of vaccines. The department confirmed the vaccine shortage is the primary factor slowing down the vaccine rollout. A spokesperson added that Linn County prioritized vaccinating the entire first subgroup of first responders before moving onto teachers, whereas other counties might prioritize teachers first or vaccinate multiple groups at once.

Heather Meador with Linn County Public Health added that the county plans to work with multiple medical partners to vaccinate different subgroups so as not to overwhelm any one provider.

Batenhorst said the school district will receive their first allocation of doses sometime later this week. He said he expects to vaccinate his elementary school staff.

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