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Board Discusses COVID Vaccine Clinic

By Joseph Schany - | Feb 4, 2021

by Joseph Schany

“Palo Alto County currently has a 14-day average of 7 percent, with 31 active COVID cases,” began Sarah Strohman, Director, Community Health, providing an update to the Board of Supervisors on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday morning. “Unfortunately we did have a jump in the number of deaths. We are at 16 deaths in Palo Alto County now.”

With the recent green light given for Phase 1B vaccinations to begin on individuals 65 and over, and as vaccine slowly makes its way to Palo Alto County, Strohman and her team have been hard at work preparing for the county’s first public vaccine clinic set for Feb. 9. at the Emmetsburg VFW. According to Strohman, the high demand for the clinic has been overwhelming.

“Our phones here at the office have become incredibly crazy. We had well over 600 phone calls and close to 300 voicemails Monday morning. All of our appointment slots were filled by 8:27 a.m. and we did not start taking calls until 8 a.m. It was a frenzy. But the clinic is all scheduled and ready to go and we are working on getting all of our volunteers lined up and making sure the space will be safe and adequate for what we need.”

The increased call volume has led to issues with clinic scheduling, and the difficulties in securing an appointment has left some county residents frustrated.

“We are getting a lot of unpleasant phone calls from people who are upset,” said Strohman. “The unfortunate thing is we have a large population that falls into this 1B category and we can’t get to everybody in the first few weeks.”

According to Strohman, not only are vaccine doses coming in slowly, the state has also instructed Public Health to split doses 50/50, with 50 percent going to residents 65 and over and the other 50 percent going to everyone else falling into Tier 1B, including first responders, PK-12 staff, and others.

“We are only getting 100 doses at a time so when we are still working on trying to get second doses to some of our facilities and medical staff, those 100 doses don’t go very far. I imagine it is going to be several months before we can get this phase done.”

Because the upcoming clinic is full, phone calls for vaccine appointments are not being accepted at this time. Once information regarding the next clinic becomes available, details will be published on Facebook and in the newspaper. Strohman hopes to have additional phone lines available at that time, as well as an online scheduling option to help cut down on the number of calls. Until then, Strohman asks the public for understanding during this unprecedented time.

“We are definitely trying our hardest and we continue to ask for patience and grace. We are human and we can only do so much with what we have.”

Read the full article in The Democrat.