March 5, 2021
Update on Vaccinations of Priority Groups
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced last night that, effective Monday, March 8, Iowa vaccine providers can officially begin vaccinating additional priority populations. Individuals 64 years of age and younger with medical conditions that are or may be an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are now eligible. (The CDC’s recommendations for those conditions are detailed at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html.)
While this is great news for Iowans with medical conditions that put them at increased risk from COVID-19, it is important to remember that vaccine production has not yet met the demand for the vaccine. This decision was made to accommodate some Iowa counties that have been able to move through priority groupings quicker due to smaller populations. Some counties and vaccine providers will remain focused on previous priority populations until they are closer to completion.
In Dubuque County, public health and local healthcare providers will continue to:
- focus on vaccinating residents age 65 and over,
- are beginning to vaccinate Phase 1B Tier 2 populations (designated frontline essential workers and individuals with disabilities living in home settings and their direct care staff), and
- will begin to vaccinate residents age 16-64 with medical conditions that are or may be an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Depending upon vaccine allocations, some but not all providers will begin vaccinating the 16-64 year old population with medical conditions next week. Residents eligible in this group will need to self-schedule appointments through vaccine provider websites. Please do not call provider offices to request an appointment. Eligible residents who do not have a healthcare provider can call the Dubuque County “Sleeves Up!” phone number, 563.587.4950, for assistance on how to receive a vaccine. Callers will be asked to leave their information on a recording and will be contacted directly when a vaccination appointment is available.
Dubuque County’s population of residents age 65 and older is estimated at 17,819. As of this afternoon (March 5):
- 7,166 (40%) county residents age 65 and over have received only their first vaccine dose
- 4,874 (27%) have received both doses and completed their vaccination series
Healthcare providers continue to contact their patients age 65 and over when appointments are available and some county pharmacies are offering appointments. Starting March 9, Iowa’s 211 Call Center will be able to assist Iowans age 65 and older who need assistance scheduling an appointment and don’t have access to the technology to do so.
Because vaccine production has not fully met the demand for vaccine, Iowans will need to remain patient as vaccine production increases. The White House announced this week that by the end of May, there will be enough vaccine for anyone over the age of 16 who chooses to receive one.
It’s critical to continue practicing the mitigation measures that can slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Vaccinated Iowans should continue these precautions as we are still learning whether getting a vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself.
- Wear a mask or face covering
- Practice social distancing with those outside your household
- Clean your hands frequently with soap and water
- Stay home if you feel sick
- Get tested if you are exposed to, or have symptoms of COVID-19
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible