'We're preparing, and we're waiting'

COVID vaccine is coming but may be a while for masses

A COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed to Iowa in the coming weeks, but Washington County Public Health warns that everyday citizens will not be seeing it anytime soon.

During morning news conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds said 26,000 Pfizer vaccinations will be distributed throughout Iowa on Dec. 13. By the end of the month, she expects 172,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by both Moderna and Pfizer.

These vaccines are prioritized for hospitals, nursing homes and emergency personal.

Washington Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski said it is important for people to understand it is going to be a long time before general mass vaccinations take place.

“I anticipate that it will be the end of summer before we have enough people vaccinated for it to be impactful,” Pettit-Majewski said.

She anticipates that social distancing and mask-wearing will be important until the end of next year.

Pettit-Majewski said the county is preparing to receive vaccines. She said the planning is “hurry up and wait.”

“We’re preparing, and we’re waiting,” she said.

Public Health has had mass vaccination plans prepared for years. In the recent months, Pettit-Majewski said Public Health has been reaching out to the prioritized groups to determine how many vaccines are needed.

The vaccinations will be distributed in phases and will determine in what ways Public Health administers them.

Going directly into a business and holding mass vaccination clinics are future possibilities.

Pettit-Majewski said there are different logistics that go into vaccinating the general population and at this point it is wait and see.

“Yes there is hope coming, but we cannot take our foot off the gas,” she said. “We want people to be well enough to get the vaccine or still be here to take advantage of it.”

Pettit-Majewski provided a few addition pieces of information she said are important for the public to understand.

At this stage, the vaccinations are not for use on children.

The vaccine requires two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. The two doses must be from the same company.

Those who have had COVID-19 in the past should still be vaccinated. Pettit-Majewski said the antibodies from the virus last around 90 days.

“The studies have shown the vaccine gives you more of a superhuman response than your body will,” Pettit-Majewski said.

The vaccination process has to be done in phases, even inside schools and businesses. Pettit-Majewski said there will likely be individuals who do not feel well for a few days after.

For at least the next nine months, Pettit-Majewski said there is work to be done, and it will be a slow process.

“There are 330 million people in the United States, and everybody would need two doses,” she said. “To get to herd immunity, that takes time.”