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COVID-19 vaccinations continue to expand in Floyd County

By Bob Steenson,

Vaccinations continue for health care workers and long-term care residents in Floyd County as plans are being made for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Floyd County Medical Center in Charles City and physician provider clinics in Nora Springs and Rockford have received doses for staff members, and on Thursday a vaccination clinic will be offered in Charles City for other health care providers including dentists, orthodontists, hospice workers, chiropractors and their staffs, said Gail Arjes, Floyd County Public Health administrator.

“Thursday is our big day where we’re bringing in a lot of EMS providers here to the office to receive the vaccine,” Arjes said. “We’ll also be giving the vaccine on Thursday to Riverside assisted living, residents and staff.”

Residents and staff in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes are getting vaccinations through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies and other regional pharmacies like Hy-Vee to deliver the doses.

The 9th Street Chautauqua residents and staff were vaccinated on Monday, and 11th Street Chautauqua will be vaccinated on Saturday by teams from CVS.

Arjes said the reception to getting the vaccine has been generally good from health care staff.

“But of course there still is some hesitancy,” she said. “Some people are opting to wait a while. Not that they don’t want to receive it, they’re just opting to wait until maybe the next go-around.”

Arjes said she encourages people to go to reputable websites such as the Iowa Department of Public Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information on the vaccine.

“If they have any questions they can call their physician. They can call our office and we can try to help answer some of those vaccine questions that they may have” she said.

Arjes said so far the county has received 500 doses of the Moderna brand of the vaccine. Two-hundred of the doses were allocated to the Floyd County Medical Center and the other 300 are being used for the other county health care providers.

The 500 doses means 500 people can get vaccinated, even though vaccination requires two doses.

“We are not saving vaccine back for the second dose,” Arjes said. “We will be receiving a boost dose — they are calling it a boost dose — for every dose that we administer in this first phase. We automatically get our second dose shipped to us in 28 days.

The Moderna vaccine requires four weeks between the first and second dose. The Pfizer vaccine, which is being used in long-term health care centers through the federal grant, requires three weeks between doses.

The vaccine rollout is being guided by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is part of the CDC.

Phase 1A vaccination is the health care providers.

“They’re looking throughout the entire state and they want to make sure that all health care providers throughout the entire state are vaccinated or have a chance to be vaccinated before we move on to our next phase,” Arjes said.

The vaccines are now being offered in Floyd County based on where people work. For example, people who live outside Floyd County but who work as health care providers in the county can get the vaccine.

“We won’t turn anyone away because they don’t live in Floyd County,” Arjes said. “So say, like the hospital for example. They’re giving it to all their employees regardless of where they live. We are doing the same for the dental offices, for all these EMS providers. We don’t care where they live.”

The next step in vaccination will be Phase 1B.

“We have to get the go-ahead from IDPH to move on to Phase 1B. The complete recommendations have not been out yet on that yet from the ACIP, but we’re anticipating that fire, police, those sorts of groups will be in Phase 1B,” Arjes said.

She said they are hoping for mid-January for Phase 1B, but that hasn’t been established yet.

As far as vaccinations for the general public, “Unfortunately I can’t give a timeline,” Arjes said. “I don’t know which age groups they’re going to target first, what underlying medical conditions — I honestly just do not have a timeline for the general public. That all comes from IDPH, and the vaccine ACIP.”

For now, she said, her office continues to plan for the next steps, whenever they may happen.

“We’re continually planning. Of course we’re looking at who could be in our next phase and kind of making a list of everyone here in Floyd County that we know of that could potentially be in that next phase,” Arjes said.

“We’re also looking beyond that. We’re still looking at a couple of our sites that we are planning to use for when it does come out to the general public and how we can make that flow really smoothly,” she said. “There’s always planning going on.”

Arjes said that even though the vaccine is beginning to be distributed, people need to continue taking precautions.

“We want to remind people to continue with their social distancing, wear a mask, good hand-washing — all the things we’ve been preaching for the last year,” she said.


Floyd County Public Health Administrator Gail Arjes said there was some encouraging information revealed in a recent online survey the county health department conducted regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the 828 people who responded, about 75% said they would receive the vaccine, she said.

About 25% said they were either unsure, or they would not get it, and the No. 1 reason people gave for not getting the vaccine was “it’s just so new,” Arjes said.