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Polk County officials: Vaccine supply still doesn't meet demand, residents should remain patient

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the county are stabilizing, but the Polk County Health Department says mitigation efforts must remain in place.

DES MOINES, Iowa — With only 19,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine being allocated to the entire state of Iowa each week, county health departments are urging residents to be patient and continue practicing mitigation efforts as they wait for their turn. 

Dallas County experienced a technical glitch in their appointment booking system Tuesday, causing confusion for residents 65 years and older. 

Polk County has not reported a glitch, but they are urging residents to continuously check their website for appointment slots. 

In Polk County alone there are 61,000 residents 65 years and up, including teachers and health care workers, according to county public health director Helen Eddy. 

"In an extremely-limited vaccine supply situation, we are anticipating in the next week or so that aside from any federal government interventions that we will have an additional 19,000 doses available for the entire state of Iowa, as the state's obligation to the long term care program is fulfilled," Eddy said. "Again, this comes nowhere near meeting the need and the demand of the state, or even Polk County."

"So that is why we're asking for your patience. We know everyone is anxious, we are anxious for you to have the vaccine."

Eddy said the department is constantly receiving calls about when a vaccine may be available to certain individuals and how they will be vaccinated. 

"We are frequently asked about opening a mass vaccination clinic, we are prepared and can open a mass vaccination clinic, should it be necessary," Eddy said. "However, there is not sufficient vaccine supply to open and operate a mass clinic."

Eddy noted mass vaccination clinics will open once the department, Hy-Vee, Medicap and Drake University pharmacies are vaccinating at full capacity with extra doses to spare. 

Vaccine appointments can be made at the Polk County Health Department on Fridays at noon for the following week. Slots fill up quickly, so officials want residents to keep checking in with pharmacy partners and the department for appointments. 

Appointments can be made with the health department or other pharmacy partners with the links below: 

More information on how Polk County is vaccinating residents can be found on the health department's website

RELATED: Iowan feels like she's 'competing' for vaccine appointment

Polk County COVID activity stable

Cases, deaths and hospitalizations for Polk County are trending downward, according to Dr. Meghan Schaeffer with Aperio Statistical Consulting. 

However, there is still a high level of community transmission in the county.

Polk County's average 14-day positivity rate has yet to dip below 13%. Schaeffer said the county averages between 175-200 cases per day, and 18% of those cases are kids ages 0-17. 

Activity within Polk County school districts is also trending downward. 

"So activity in schools definitely mirrored the community, whereas I think in the fall, it was more of a matter of community influencing schools," Schaeffer said. 

"Two things of interest with school activity: I'm not seeing as much activity among staff as we did in our fall surge, mainly student activity," she explained. 

"However, the number of students and staff in quarantine as a result of those cases is lower than we saw in past outbreaks." 

Schaeffer said this news is encouraging because it appears folks are listening to isolation and quarantining guidelines within schools. Another note is that schools are requiring face coverings. 

Deaths in Polk County average around two to three per day, according to Schaeffer. 

"I think that there was a bit of a drop off at the end of last week. We typically see surges in fatalities after surging cases, as has been the case with the surge we saw in November and then the slight surge we saw in January."

County hospitalizations from the virus are "much more manageable" than the last few months. Hospitalizations as of Tuesday totaled 92. 

Officials said if hospitalizations from the virus are below 100, it is less likely for metro hospitals to become overwhelmed. 


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