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PUBLIC HEALTH

Vaccines for 65-plus should be available soon

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Coronavirus vaccines are expected to be available in early March for Carroll County residents who are ages 65 and older.

Inoculations for the first phase of essential healthcare workers is largely complete, and the bulk of non-healthcare essential workers such as teachers and emergency responders are anticipated to have at least their first of two vaccine shots by next week, according to Nikki Schwering, the county’s public health director.

The 65-and-older group is technically eligible for vaccines now — based on the state’s vaccination plan — but a scarcity of supplies has forced the county and local healthcare providers to give priority to their oldest residents and patients, typically those who are at least 75 years old.

The county has been receiving about 300 vaccine doses each week, and half of those have been distributed to clinics, who schedule appointments by contacting their patients.

Recently, the county has made vaccines available to people who are at least 75 via telephone appointments. Those appointments are typically filled within an hour of the county’s announcements of availability online and in notices to local news media, Schwering said.

A list of local vaccine sites and more information about appointments is available at the St. Anthony Regional Hospital website.

Despite optimism that available doses would increase in recent weeks, vaccine distributions to Carroll County have been stagnant. Crippling winter storms in the south that caused massive shipment delays are partly to blame.

A new single-dose vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson is expected to be approved soon by federal regulators, which would boost the nation’s supply.

The local pharmacy at Hy-Vee has been averaging a supply of 100 vaccines each week, pharmacist Dan G'Sell said. Those appointments are sporadically available on Hy-Vee’s website.

G'Sell said to check the site frequently for availability because the pharmacy doesn't receive new doses with regularity.

"Keep checking the site," he said. "They can also use that same site to see if surrounding Hy-Vees have appointments available."

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