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How Iowa's largest county is handling COVID-19 vaccinations

Polk County is ahead of the state, already allowing those 65 years and older to get their vaccine. However, appointments are filling up quickly.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Appointments for COVID-19 vaccines are booked for next week in Polk County after they announced those 65 years and older can now get the vaccine

The county also expanded the eligibility to the following groups:

  • First responders
  • PK-12 staff
  • Early childhood educators
  • Childcare workers

Those in Phase 1A are still eligible for the vaccine as well. 

Many older Iowans don't use social media or other online resources, so how does the Polk County Health Department reach out to those folks? 

"This is why we really rely on our partners like [Local 5] to push it through TV, through television, through the newspapers as well," said Nola Aigner Davis, the county health department's communications officer. 

Callers asking for vaccine information flood into county health departments constantly. One of the biggest questions asked is the timeline for when a specific group can get their shot. 

RELATED: Iowans 65 and up eligible for vaccine Feb. 1 in updated Phase 1B plan

Now that Polk County appointments are booked for next week, Aigner Davis said those eligible to get their shot can book their appointment for the week of Feb. 1 on Jan. 29. 

"It's kind of our schedule that we're going to start doing. We'll open up appointments for the following week on Fridays at noon for the health department," Aigner Davis said. 

This is just to get vaccinated at the Polk County Health Department. Pharmacies providing doses, like Hy-Vee and Drake, have their own scheduling system.

There isn't an alert system that notifies the public when vaccine appointments are available. Aigner Davis said residents will need to stay on top of the process since things change by the minute. 

"There may be an opening and then that gets full, so it's just really important that people are staying on top of this. And hopefully, we'll start having more locations here in the metro area in Polk County," Aigner Davis said. 

Those eligible for the vaccine should bring a form of identification with them. Photo ID's and proof of employment are both needed before a resident can get their shot. 

"We really understand that our community wants a vaccine and we want you to get vaccinated, that is our main goal in public health is to make sure everyone is vaccinated," Aigner Davis said. "So as soon as we get vaccine, we're opening appointments to get people vaccinated just realize that this may take a while and so have some patience because we are trying so very hard to get you vaccinated."

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