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Dubuque County moves forward with pop-up vaccine clinics as alternative to established PODs

Updated: May. 15, 2021 at 2:58 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Dubuque County health officials say the future of COVID-19 vaccinations in the county lies in smaller, pop-up vaccine sites instead of the bigger, more established ones at places like Kennedy Mall and the Grand River Center.

Patrice Lambert, Dubuque County Public Health Department’s director, said the change in approach comes as vaccine demand in the county continues to decline.

“We decided that we needed to have a new vaccine administration strategy,” she said. “So we did talk with our vaccine providers and we all decided that what we needed to do was to go where the people were.”

That translates to pop-up vaccine sites. One of those was run by UnityPoint-Health Finley hospital staff during Food Truck Friday at Washington Square Park.

Robin Scalise, who ran the site, said they have discovered this is an efficient way of making vaccines more accessible to the community.

”There are people who just do not have the means or ability to get out to the PODs [point of distribution sites] or to other locations where vaccines are being given,” she explained. “So if we get to different areas in the community hopefully they can walk over or maybe they trust the area more because it is their neighborhood.”

Scalise added it also helps them raise more awareness when it comes to vaccines.

“There are still people who do not realize that they can be vaccinated right now and so it is important for us, even if we did not vaccinate anybody, but we were able to tell people, ‘You are eligible, please go here,’” she commented.

Finley hospital staff were ready to vaccinate around 200 people at the clinic. Scalise said she hoped updated CDC guidance on mask-wearing would persuade some people into getting the shot.

“That is hopefully a motivating factor to get people to take the time now and get vaccinated so we can get back to normal,” she added.

With this new transition to the pop-up clinics, city and county leaders have had to decide on the future of the established vaccine sites at Kennedy Mall and the Grand River Center.

The site at the Grand River Center’s garage will be the first to go, according to Lambert.

“We were starting to see the numbers decrease and the incident management team is very conscientious of the cost with all of these POD sites,” she mentioned.

Lambert explained they will end the lease sooner than anticipated and hope to shut down the site by the last week of May. She said, in doing so, the county would be saving around $15,000.

The site at the former Yonkers space inside Kennedy Mall, though, will stick around for a while longer.

“We do not want to close that door out at that site because it is an easy, accessible place for people to go for their vaccines,” Lambert commented.

Even though plans are not finalized, Lambert mentioned they will probably dedicate one day a week to that site for the remainder of May and June. However, Lambert added their main focus now will be on the pop-up sites.

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