Linn County Public Health: “No vaccine expansion until March 15th”

Newly eligible can start getting vaccinated by pharmacies on Monday, but the County programs won’t be ready until March 15th.
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 4:46 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Linn County Public Health says those newly eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines can start getting vaccinated by pharmacies on Monday, while the County won’t be ready to start vaccinating those 64 and under with medical conditions until March 15th.

In a press conference on Friday, Heather Meador, Clinical Branch Supervisor at Linn County Public Health, said that since pharmacies get their vaccine doses directly from the federal government and have their programs administered by the state and federal government, anyone newly eligible will be able to get vaccinated on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Due to logistical and planning issues, County-run vaccine distribution points will not be able to vaccinate any newly eligible groups until March 15th. Linn County is only approximately 60% through vaccinating its 65-and-over older population and only on the first stage of the five tiers in the current eligibility group.

Meador also said that, despite the upcoming eligibility expansion, there are no plans to increase vaccine allocations to Linn County at this time and that officials don’t know when the County will see an increase. The County also does not expect to receive any additional Johnson & Johnson vaccines until late March. Linn County currently received approximately 3600 doses of COVID vaccine every week.

“When you look at all the different risk factors that are on the CDC website, we’re talking about a large percentage of our population,” said Meador when asked what percentage of Linn County will now be eligible to get the vaccine. “Anyone that has ever smoked, at all, in the past or currently, when we’re looking at obesity, we know that this is going to be a significant population and that’s why we’re asking for continued patience....Because we’re not increasing the amount of vaccine coming in the County, people are going to have to wait a long time to get that vaccine.”

It is unclear at this time if-or how-those newly eligible will need to provide proof of any medical conditions that would qualify them to receive the COVID vaccine.

Meador said that Iowa counties were only notified about the State’s expansion of vaccine eligibility on Thursday night and that the move came as a total surprise to many and that many are frustrated, but added that the decision was made at the state level.

Meador said that Linn County officials will be working throughout the weekend to come up with a plan by Monday for the county to move forward providing vaccines to the newly eligible groups, adding that it is unclear at this time if the County will prioritize people with certain medical conditions over others.

“We just learned about this last night,” Meador said. “So we will be working this whole weekend to come up with [a] plan and make those plans available by Monday. We want everyone to know what that plan is. But this was a big pivot. Something that we did not expect, so we really need to group together, go through all this information so that we can make this as fair and equitable as we can for our community members.”

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