Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health is reporting a positive reaction from the public to the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations being administered in the county.
According to a release issued on Wednesday by Hardin County Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents, Greenbelt Home Care has partnered with Medicap Pharmacy in Eldora to ensure all healthcare personnel in Hardin County who are interested in receiving the vaccine are able to obtain it while ensuring proper storage and handling of the vaccine. Reents said people still need to be patient because doses are limited and people at the highest risk of contracting the disease are first in line to receive the vaccination.
The release states, "As the first COVID-19 vaccines begin to be distributed across Hardin County, Greenbelt Home Care is thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the public eager to get their vaccination. However, vaccines are limited and these early doses are for people in the highest risk category, phase 1a, specifically healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff."
Phases or risk groups are defined by the federal and state Infections Disease Advisory Council. Currently, these advisory councils are in the process of further defining these phases, groups, and sub-groups. Regarding what it does know, Hardin County Public Health released the following:
• We expect to continue receiving only limited amounts of vaccine in the upcoming weeks. Supply will not significantly increase until later in 2021.
• We do not yet know who will get the vaccine next after healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff. Some information regarding recommendations exist, but specifics have not been released.
• There is no list you need to be on to sign up for vaccination. There is no need to call your doctor, pharmacist, Hansen Family Hospital, or Greenbelt Home Care to sign up to get the vaccine.
• We do need you to be patient. We cannot reserve vaccine for anyone, and we cannot give you an exact date when it will be available to you. However, we are working hard to get plans in place so that we can vaccinate as many as we can as more vaccine becomes available.
• We will let you know when it is your turn. Please watch our local news partners, websites, and our social media pages for more information.
According to a separate release, Hansen Family Hospital has begun administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to hospital colleagues. Staff will receive the vaccine in two doses, one month apart. The first dose is approximately 50 percent effective after two weeks and completing the second dose brings the effectiveness to approximately 94.1 percent.
"This is a moment we've been waiting ten months for," said Shelby Guevara, lead coordinator for COVID vaccinations at HFH. "We've had an amazing response from hospital employees in support of the vaccine and appreciate the opportunity to keep our staff safe. We look forward to extending that opportunity to the community as well."
State and county officials have also warned of scam phone calls claiming to need personal information in order to sign up to receive the vaccine. These calls are fraudulent. Do not give personal information to anyone calling to claim they have the vaccine.
“While I am thankful to see the public so excited to receive their vaccination, we anticipate it to take some time for all our healthcare workers, from nurses to home health workers, first responders and more in our county to get vaccinated," Reents said. "Once this happens, we will begin to move to the next groups by following guidance provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Infectious Disease Advisory Council.”
In the interim, Reents recommends all residents continue taking precautions to keep themselves and their families healthy. Those measures include staying home if you are ill, washing your hands often, maintaining social distancing, and wearing a mask when you are outside of your home.
As of Thursday morning, the state's coronavirus website is reporting that 1,449 Hardin County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March. Of those, 1,236 are classified as recovered and 25 people have died. The county has 188 residents currently infected, and as of Monday four people were hospitalized.