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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Polk County to vaccinate all Phase 1A health care workers starting Jan. 11

Right now, only health care workers with affiliated hospitals and nursing home staff and residents are eligible for the vaccine.

DES MOINES, Iowa — All Polk County health care workers eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1A will be able to get their shot starting next Monday, the Polk County Health Department (PCHD) announced Tuesday. 

Vaccinations will be offered by appointment only at select pharmacies across the county. Those locations are detailed below.

A release from the PCHD says the general public likely won't get the vaccine until mid to late this year. 

During their stakeholder meeting Tuesday, the PCHD and Polk County Emergency Management discussed their expansion plan. 

COVID Vaccination Group Supervisor Carmin Hutch said the county first prioritized health care personnel with direct patient contact, long-term care residents and those employed at long-term care facilities. 

The federal Pharmacy Partnership Long-Term Care Program covers long-term care facility vaccinations. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health allocated 19,275 doses of vaccine to Polk County. Of those doses, 16,375 have been allocated to major health care systems in the county. 

Those health care systems have administered 7,118 doses to their health care workers. The other 2,900 doses will continue to be administered by the PCHD and select pharmacies, Hutch said. 

"On December 31, we worked with the medical coordination center, which includes these major hospital systems, to redistribute some Moderna inventory to the Polk County Health Department," Hutch said. "This enabled us to open up [Phase 1A] to include high-risk staff at unaffiliated medical practices."

Hutch said unaffiliated medical practices include clinics or centers that haven't had access to the vaccine for high-risk health care workers through major health care systems. 

The PCHD began vaccinating these workers yesterday through their drive-thru clinic at the department, according to Hutch.

Polk County pharmacies administering the vaccine are pictured below:

Credit: Polk County Health Department

The following links go to sign up sheets for the vaccine:

The PCHD recommends checking back periodically if no appointments are available. More appointments will be added as more vaccine is made available.

RELATED: After being offered to health care workers, educators in Jefferson County receive coronavirus vaccine

County warns of potential post-holiday surge

While COVID-19 data continues to fluctuate following the holidays, the county also warned residents of a potential surge that could happen in the next two-to-four weeks.

"We have hard work ahead of us as we begin 2021," Polk County Health Department Director Helen Eddy said Tuesday. "You will hear today that we are seeing early signs of the post-holiday surge, and monitoring the emergence of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus."

Hospitalizations in Polk County have not returned to pre-November surge levels, meaning hospitals could see "serious implications" if another surge happens.
On Monday, hospitalizations in the county totaled 142, according to Dr. Meghan Schaeffer with Aperio Statistical Consulting.

Polk County hospitals did see some relief in December when hospitalizations dipped to 118 at one point.

Schaeffer said a potential surge can be indicated through test positivity changes. Last week, the county's 14-day test positivity rate hovered around 9%, according to Schaeffer.

Hospitalizations in Polk County have not returned to pre-November surge levels, meaning hospitals could see "serious implications" if another surge happens.
On Monday, hospitalizations in the county totaled 142, according to Schaeffer.

Polk County hospitals did see some relief in December when hospitalizations dipped to 118 at one point.

Credit: Polk County

Schaeffer said a potential surge can be indicated through test positivity changes. 

Last week, the county's 14-day test positivity rate hovered around 9%, according to Schaeffer.

This week, the 14-day positivity rate topped over 13%.

She estimated the county may go up to 15% by the end of this week, but the data released over the next couple of days from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) will show if her estimation is correct.

Another indicator of a potential surge is an increase in new cases. Schaeffer said the county should be reporting less than 100 cases per 100,000 people over seven days.

Polk County reported 271 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. 

Average daily cases reported total to 207 in the county. 

Credit: Polk County