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Next round of vaccinations details in flux

Washington County Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski
Washington County Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski

Public health officials are still waiting on guidance from the state of Iowa regarding the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Washington County Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski updated the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning on the status of the next phase.

“There’s a lot of information that’s changing really quickly,” Pettit-Majewski said. “We anticipate that will probably happen again.”

She said that the state still is in Phase 1A of vaccinations, which includes health care workers and people living in long-term care, and that Phase 1B is expected to begin on Feb. 1.

Pettit-Majewski explained, though, that there still is not clear guidance regarding who will be included in Phase 1B because the state’s allotment of vaccine doses is smaller than the number of people who would be included in the guidelines the Center for Disease Control and Prevention provided for Phase 1B.

“Initially what the CDC put out as to who should be in Phase 1B was between half a million and three-quarters of a million Iowans,” she said. “IDAC (Infectious Disease Advisory Council) has to refine that classification because there wasn’t enough vaccine allocation to meet that demand.

“We’re looking at, as a group, between 300,000 and 400,000, but we also know that the vaccine allocation to the state is only going to be 226,000 doses.”

As a result, counties still do not know how many doses they will receive.

“We’ve been told we don’t know when we’ll know how much the local public health is being allocated for Phase 1B,” she said. “We don’t know how much we’re going to get, and we don’t know when we’ll know that.

“When we talked to the state on Friday, they basically said, ‘We don’t know. We don’t know when we’ll know. We’ll keep you posted.’”

Adding to the uncertainty is the change in administration this week.

“We’re going to have a leadership change (Wednesday), and that may change as well,” Pettit-Majewski said. “We may see new guidance, changing guidance, different plans, but right now, we’re still at a phased approach.”

She added that once Phase 1B begins, it will take some time to get vaccinations done.

“It will take some time to get through Phase 1B,” she said. “We ask people for their patience as we work to pivot. We don’t know how quickly we’ll know that information and to be able to plan clinics and closed pods.

“We’ll need to pivot rather quickly once we see how much vaccine we get to figure out how we’re going to do closed pods and how many people we’re going to have and the best way to coordinate all of that.”