OTTUMWA — Wapello County Public Health officials are encouraging residents to be patient when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, EMA Manager Tim Richmond and Wapello County Public Health Director Lynelle Diers said the county is still in the process of vaccinating those in Phase 1A, which includes health care providers and residents in long-term care facilities and assisted living facilities.

The next group to be vaccinated are those in the five tiers of Phase 1B, as laid out by Gov. Kim Reynolds during a press conference Thursday. Phase 1B now includes citizens 65 or older, and includes a wide swath of groups, including first responders and public safety officials, school teachers and staff, manufacturing workers and correctional facility staff.

Vaccinations for that group will not begin until after Feb. 1, but in a Facebook thread Thursday, the county public health department said it is "close to completing 1A and will be ready to start 1B on Feb. 1."

"We are currently working with local pharmacy and clinic partners to determine our best method of distributing vaccine with our limited supply," Diers and Richmond said in the statement. "We ask for your patience and understanding as we deliver vaccine according to the identified priority order."

The officials also discourage calling the public health department about getting a vaccination "unless you are in the Phase 1A group."

"Both agencies have received many phone calls, emails and messages asking when the vaccine may be available," the statement said. "We ask our public to please stay tuned to local media, the Wapello County Public Health and Wapello County Emergency Management Facebook pages and www.wapelloready.org to get the latest information."

Iowa ranks 46th out of 50 states in terms of doses of vaccine allocated, but the state has been vaccinating residents at a high rate once its receives the vaccine. Reynolds anticipated a bump in the number of doses the state will receive the next several weeks.

— Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury

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