OTTUMWA — Wapello County projects moving into the next tier of COVID-19 vaccination recipients in mid-April, but it could be sooner depending on supply, the county public health department and emergency management agency said in a press release Thursday.
The supply chain is slowly starting to improve as the local Hy-Vee pharmacies have received Pfizer vaccines from the federal pharmacy program, as well as the Moderna vaccine supplied by the public health department.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine for use, and the county is currently working with area pharmacies to obtain that vaccine to be used for the county's two largest employers — JBS USA and John Deere Ottumwa Works.
The county has completed its vaccinations for health care providers and others in the 1A group, and is in the process of vaccinating essential workers such as educators and workers in the manufacturing sector, as well as individuals with disabilities living in home settings and their direct care staff. The rural health clinics are scheduled for the next two weeks.
Since the vaccine rollout, two "teams" within the county have been vaccinating residents:
• Wapello County Public Health, which is vaccinating child care workers and those in the manufacturing sector, is still receiving 500 doses of vaccine a week, and the next groups it will vaccinate will be staff and individuals living in congregate settings (not including college dormitories), hospital and long-term care inspectors, and correctional facility staff and incarcerated individuals. The public health department is in the process of scheduling those tiers.
• The pharmacies and clinics, once they are finished vaccinating the 65-and-older population, will move on to Phase 1C, which includes those 64 and younger with medical conditions. That process is on track for a mid-April time frame, though the Iowa Department of Public Health stated late Thursday that counties that already were done with 1B could move on to the next group. Wapello County is recommending those in the 1C category begin registering with a pharmacy to receive the vaccine when appropriate, and no proof of the health condition is required.
However, the situation remains fluid. As the state will eventually see its number of doses increased, it could accelerate the process and allow the county to move to different tiers more quickly.
The public health department and EMA continue to advise residents to look at both organizations' Facebook pages for more information, and a list of current vaccination partners can be found at www.wapelloready.org/vaccine.