A long-awaited new shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses is due to arrive in Hardin County today, but the shots are already spoken for after a flurry of activity on Saturday.
Hardin County Public Health reported in an email sent Sunday that it learned on Friday that it would be receiving 20 vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Public Health Coordinator Rocky Reents said the vials, each of which contains 10 to 12 doses of the vaccine, are designated for Hardin County residents age 65 and older, with permission from the state to begin distribution of the shots before Feb. 1.
The Iowa Department of Public Health announced last week that Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution program, which was to begin “no later than Feb. 1,” would include Iowans age 65 and older, as well as first responders, educators and child care providers.
Reents, in her email to local pharmacists, health care providers and the media, said that staff from Hardin County Public Health spent Saturday reaching out to eligible local residents who had called their offices to inquire about vaccine availability and add their names to a list. Those people were signed up for two clinics that will be held in Iowa Falls and Eldora on Tuesday to distribute the vaccine doses.
“All available appointments for Tuesday have successfully been filled,” Reents wrote.
Local public health agencies across the state have struggled to get enough vaccine doses to satisfy demand. Hardin County received its first delivery of Moderna vaccine vials on Dec. 22, and Medicap Pharmacy in Eldora – the public health agency’s sole partner in vaccine distribution – began administering shots on Dec 23. That first round of vaccinations, which numbered about 600, went to people who were eligible for Phase 1A, which included health care workers.
It’s been unclear when additional allotments of the vaccine would be distributed to Hardin County. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said last week that Iowa ranks 46th in the country for the number of vaccine doses it has received from the federal government.
Reents said the county agency still doesn’t know when it will receive more doses of the vaccine or when Medicap may be able to begin vaccinating others who are eligible for phase 1B.
“Going forward, once we are aware of the amount of vaccines assigned to our county for Phase 1B, we will provide information on how to schedule appointments and where clinics will be located,” Reents wrote.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, as of Jan. 21, 969 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been distributed to Hardin County residents. Of that total, 617 have been distributed from Hardin County Public Health’s supply. The rest of the 969 are likely vaccine doses that were administered at long term care facilities as part of the federal vaccination program, or shots administered to Hardin County residents at their place of work outside the county.
The public is encouraged to keep up to date on Hardin County COVID-19 vaccine announcements by following Greenbelt Home Care/Hardin County Public Health on Facebook.