Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD - Livia Horvath is eager to return to a pre-pandemic 'normal,” and she took one step closer to that goal by getting her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday.
Horvath was among more than 1,100 people to receive the vaccine during a massive two-day clinic held over the weekend at the Jefferson County Health Center in Fairfield. She said she was extremely pleased to be eligible for a vaccine. She has taken the 'soft quarantine” seriously, rarely leaving her house, working from home and having her groceries delivered to her front door.
Once she gets the second dose of the vaccine in three weeks, Horvath plans to open her home to more visitors and make more trips out of the house.
Fairfield resident Steve Keller said he feels the same way, and that getting the second dose will be a load off his mind. He was happy to get a vaccine Saturday because he interacts with the public at the Fairfield Farmers Market, where he is a frequent vendor. Now he won't worry as much about being around people and running a risk of spreading the virus. Keller said a member of his family died from COVID, and several acquaintances have gotten sick from it.
It took Keller some time to adjust to life behind a mask. He's come around to it and to being more mindful of social distancing and avoiding crowded places.
Huan Wang is a student at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, and he learned he was eligible to receive the vaccine because he has diabetes. Wang had planned to move to Texas last April after landing a job working as a data engineer for AT&T, but the pandemic put a stop to that. Instead, he remained in Fairfield and worked for AT&T remotely.
In early January, the United States reached a point where it was reporting about 250,000 new cases of COVID per day. That number has fallen to about 60,000 new cases per day in late March thanks to millions of people getting vaccinated. Wang said even after he gets the second dose in April, he plans to continue wearing a mask and staying home as much as he can, because the pandemic is not yet over.
Anna Ostby, a senior at Mt. Pleasant High School, is a certified nursing assistant at Jefferson County Health Center and helped out at the weekend clinic. After patients received their shot, they sat in a hallway where health workers like Ostby monitored them for severe reactions to the vaccine. Luckily, most people felt fine, Ostby said. A few reported soreness in their arm, and one woman felt lightheaded so she was monitored a little longer in a separate room.
Since Ostby works in health care, she was among the first to receive the vaccine when it became available in December. Unfortunately, that was after she had already suffered through a bout with COVID. She said she and a number of her friends at Mt. Pleasant High School got the virus. She had to stay home from school for a few weeks, during which time she lost her sense of taste and smell and ran a fever of 104 degrees. It didn't turn into anything more serious than that, and after spending a few days in bed, Ostby was recovered.
Ostby started working at JCHC last June when the health center was starting to see COVID patients. Sometimes she spent her whole shift in the COVID wing of the hospital, and that meant having to wear a gown, hair net, shoe covers, an N95 mask and goggles. She said it's a bit uncomfortable to have to wear all that gear for an entire shift, but it's necessary to keep the virus from spreading.
NuCara Pharmacy hosted the clinic in the McCreery Cancer Center on the south side of the Jefferson County Health Center. Patrons signed up for appointments in five-minute increments. Six health professionals administered vaccines, while a couple more performed check-ins and three to five volunteers directed traffic inside the building. Curtis Smith, JCHC's chief operating officer, said 20 employees and volunteers were needed to put on the clinic.
With a couple of days left before the clinic began, there were 200 doses still unspoken for. Murphye Zane, manager of NuCara Pharmacy, said the pharmacy managed to find patients for all 200 doses, plus about 12-15 extra doses the pharmacy discovered it had Saturday morning. Zane explained that the vials from Pfizer usually contain enough contents to get six doses from one vial, but occasionally some vials contain enough of the vaccine to get seven doses.
People aged 65 and older have been eligible to receive a vaccine for a few months, and it seems most older adults who want a vaccine had already received it before last weekend's clinic. Zane estimated that only 20-30 of the people who had appointments at the clinic were 65 or older.
Those under 65 could qualify for a vaccine if they had a health condition, though Zane said they were not required to prove it through documentation.