Everyone in Iowa age 16 and older became eligible on Monday for COVID-19 vaccine.
“We expect vaccine supplies to remain steady,” said Jes Wenger, Fayette County Public Health coordinator. “Everyone who wants the vaccine will eventually be able to receive it through their health care provider or authorized pharmacies. We will continue to make every effort to vaccinate those at highest risk first such as older adults and those with existing health conditions.”
The vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing death, hospitalizations and severe COVID-19 illness, according to a Public Health news release. Pfizer is currently the only vaccine authorized for those age 16 and older.
Local health officials encourage those who are hesitant to get the vaccine to talk to their health care provider and seek information from credible sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control, Iowa Department of Health Services, or gundersenhealth.org.
“Some people are hesitant because they feel the vaccines were developed too quickly,” said Dr. Mordechai Lederman, medical director at Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital and Clinics. “No shortcuts were taken. Scientists had a head start in developing the vaccines due to earlier research on other coronaviruses such as SARS.
“When COVID-19 occurred, medical experts and scientists shifted their time and resources to developing vaccines. The government’s emergency use authorization enabled more resources to be put toward clinical trials on people of all ages, ethnicities, and medical conditions. This shortened the review process resulting in faster public access to the vaccines.”
Those who previously had COVID-19 are also encouraged to get vaccinated.
“This is a new virus and it is unclear how long natural immunity from an infection will last,” said Lederman. “We know reinfection is uncommon within 90 days of infection, but we cannot confirm it extends beyond that. The vaccine can protect you from reinfection and from new strains of the virus.”
Vaccines are available locally through Fayette County healthcare providers or pharmacies.
Local vaccine providers include:
• Hy-Vee Dollar Fresh, Oelwein, hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/covid-vaccine.
• Buchanan County Health Center, Oelwien, bchealth.org/covid19.
• MercyOne Oelwein Medical Center, mercyone.org.
• Scott Pharmacy, Fayette, scottrx.com/coronavirus.
• Gundersen Palmer Hospital and Clinics, 563-422-3817, or request an appointment online for Gundersen’s registered MyChart users.
• NuCara Pharmacy, West Union, nucara.com/coronavirus.
The vaccines are provided at no cost, no matter where you receive it. An administration fee can be charged for giving the shot, but this fee is paid by an individual’s insurance or by the federal government for those without insurance.
“COVID-19 is not going away,” Wegner said. “The more who receive the vaccine, the closer we are to achieving herd immunity and a return to a sense of normalcy.”
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health as of Wednesday, 4,939 Fayette County residents have completed two-dose vaccination and 118 have received the single-dose vaccine.
“From our large clinic to our partners, we have demonstrated our ability to have a large increase of vaccine in the county and meet the 80% burn rate required in Iowa,” Wegner said. As of late March, Local Public Health was finishing boost doses of the large groups, such as teachers, EMS, healthcare, and so forth, she said.
It will take months to vaccinate all Iowa residents. The CDC recommends everyone, whether they are vaccinated or not, to continue to wear masks, social distance, avoid large gatherings and wash hands frequently. It is unknown at this time if vaccinated individuals can still transmit the virus.