Group eligible for vaccine continues to wait as Iowa health departments form plans

Published: Mar. 6, 2021 at 8:17 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Health care workers said the news that people 64 and under with underlying health conditions could get the vaccine starting Monday was a sign of hope.

However, they said the change from the state caught health departments off guard.

The intensive care unit at St. Luke’s Hospital has been home for Kerri Feldhaus for the last 23-years. The last year, fighting the pandemic has been one of the most difficult.

“It has been rough for the team, but I’m very fortunate that I work with a lot of top-notch clinicians,” said Feldhaus. “They’ve been very resilient.”

Getting the vaccine back in January was the first glimpse of hope for her. Now, she said moving to the next group, 64 and under with underlying conditions, was another great step. Even more so for her husband Bill, who suffers from high blood pressure and asthma.

“I was very happy,” said Bill. “I have no questions about its safety. All the studying they’ve done in a short time, but there have been thousands of people working on the vaccine for a long time.”

The couple has worked in the hospital during the pandemic and has seen what the virus is capable of. Bill was already trying to get his hands on his first shot.

“I tried to call and sign-up, but, unfortunately, it was all gone,” said Bill.

He wasn’t alone in this new group not being able to get the vaccine. Friday, the Linn County Department of Public Health’s Heather Meador said all 3,600 doses they would receive this week were spoken for, and the state didn’t give them enough notice.

“When we don’t know these things are coming out, and we can’t do planning beforehand, it puts a strain on it,” said Meador. “It’s what we do in public health. We get information, we do planning, and we work to protect our community.”

Meador said she was working this weekend to form a plan for the new group starting the following Monday. While Bill continued to wait his turn, he and Kerri knew this vaccine doesn’t mean the pandemic was over.

“We still need to continue to fight,” said Kerri. As the community becomes more open, it’s still important to social distance, wash our hands, and wear a mask.”

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