Due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country and locally, Linn County has closed most buildings to the public to help reduce community spread of the virus and to help ensure continuity of County services.
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Linn County Public Health (LCPH), in coordination with community partners, has been preparing to receive and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. With the first COVID-19 vaccine expected to arrive as early as next week, vaccination will soon begin among certain priority groups.
“Due to initial limited supplies of the vaccine, doses will be offered to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities in the first phase of vaccine distribution,” said Tricia Kitzmann, Community Health Manager at Linn County Public Health. “As more vaccines become available, these groups will broaden to include more people becoming eligible to receive them.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes vaccination recommendations for priority groups, including those for COVID-19 vaccines, based on input from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). These priority groups may be further narrowed at the state and local level (PDF) until vaccine supply increases.
“It’s important that vaccine supplies are given to people in a fair, ethical and transparent way,” said Dr. Tony Myers, vice president of system quality, risk and medical affairs at Mercy Cedar Rapids. “While vaccines are an important tool to control the pandemic, we also need to stay vigilant in wearing masks, washing our hands and physically distancing until we reach an immunity level to control this pandemic.”
While ACIP will recommend priority groups for vaccine in additional distribution phases, the COVID-19 vaccine supply is expected to increase substantially in 2021 and eventually be available for everyone who wants to receive it. Once vaccine is adequately available, residents will be able to receive the vaccine at local pharmacies and some local clinics.
“Inaccurate and incorrect information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines are circulating in social media. Please, listen to your trusted health professionals as they begin the complex process of distributing vaccines to Linn County,” said Dr. Dustin Arnold, Chief Medical Officer at UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s Hospital. “Safety is a prerequisite for all vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines. New vaccines undergo a rigorous analysis of research and clinical data to ensure safety and efficacy. The first COVID-19 vaccines were tested in tens of thousands of people and were proven to work as intended with no serious side effects.” The CDC is allocating the COVID-19 vaccine to Iowa based on population size and target populations. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) will then allocate vaccine to counties. In Linn County, the first allocations of vaccine will be directed to healthcare sites with ultra-cold storage capacity. IDPH is reserving Pfizer vaccine for the long-term care pharmacy partnership.
To learn more about spotting misinformation, to receive information about the vaccines from credible sources, and to review frequently asked questions visit the Linn County Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine webpage.
LCPH is experiencing a large number of phone calls and email messages. COVID-19 related concerns and questions will be answered as soon as possible. For more information on COVID-19, visit: