OTTUMWA — The latest doses of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Ottumwa on Wednesday, but will only be available for the first 100 people at the following locations — North Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Drugstore and MercyOne.

Both Hy-Vee stores require registration. Anyone needing assistance with online registration is encouraged to ask a family member for help. Do not call the stores. Appointments also will not be taken over the phone, but there is no cost to the patient, who must bring an insurance card.

MercyOne will be reaching out to patients when the vaccine is available to them, and residents are asked not to call the facility. Vaccine will be administered to patients based on their health risk assessment score. If a patient has a medical condition that puts them at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19, that person's care team will reach out as soon as it that person's turn to get the vaccine. Like the Hy-Vee stores, there is no cost to the patient and they must bring an insurance card.

The county is beginning its Phase 1B vaccinations, which are for people 65 and older. Tim Richmond of the Wapello County Emergency Management Agency said the county is partnering with local pharmacies to administer the vaccine, and said the COVID-19 vaccines are different than flu vaccines.

"I have received a lot of feedback asking why we are pushing to different locations when the locations from last week still have lists. The reason is that Wapello County Public Health is working with all local pharmacy and clinic partners to refine and practice the process with this new vaccine," he said. "Once larger amounts are received, the process will then go very smoothly. This vaccine is different than other vaccines such as the flu shot. With the flu shot, a customer can be in and out in just a few minutes. With the COVID vaccine, a customer has to be monitored for 15 minutes for any possible reactions."

He also noted logistical challenges.

"If multiple people are present, social distancing must be adhered to. Once the vial is opened, 10 doses must be used within six hours as there are no preservatives in this vaccine like there is in a flu vaccine," he said. "The registration process is also tricky for site to ensure they have 10 people within the same administration window so that vaccine is not wasted."

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