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New drive-thru vaccination clinic up and running at Dubuque’s Grand River Center

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 9:16 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Dubuque County residents interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine now have another location option: a drive-thru clinic at the Grand River Center.

The idea of setting up this clinic was a topic of contention for county and health officials for weeks. The Dubuque County Board of Health decided not to endorse the county’s incident management team proposal. A board member told TV9 they thought there was no need for it.

The incident management team came up with the idea as a way to prepare for when everyone in Iowa 16 and older became eligible to receive the vaccine, which happened on Monday. That is why county supervisors decided on a 2-1 vote to partly fund it, stating they would rather “err on the side of caution.”

The drive-thru clinic is mostly run by the Dubuque Fire Department. Captain Phil Arensdorf is one of the workers qualified to administer shots.

“It has been very exciting,” he confessed. “We have met some wonderful people; some of them have not had a vaccine in so many years for even the flu shot, so for us to be a part of that has been very special.”

Others, like Sam Janecke, an EMS supervisor with the fire department, are helping out wherever it is needed.

“I was involved since the beginning of the planning phase about a month and a half ago and my role today is just to help out wherever possible and also with the back-end data entry that is required for the state,” he explained.

More than 200 people got their Johnson & Johnson dose on Thursday. Staff say they have appointments available for next week.

According to Dubuque city officials, the plan is to vaccinate around 50 people per hour, but for now, they are starting slow, figuring the ins and outs of operating a drive-thru vaccination site.

Janecke says it is an honor for the fire department to take part in bringing the county closer to the much-awaited “return to normal”

“I know it is just a small number today, but every little bit helps and we are a piece in that bigger puzzle of getting life back to a state of normalcy,” he said.

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