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Our Kossuth County column: Good news, bad news on the vaccine front

The good news is – vaccine clinics are happening in Kossuth County. We are so glad to be able to distribute the vaccine to more people, including all people age 65 and older. 
The not-so-good news is – vaccine supply is still scarce. Getting vaccine to all the people who want it will be a long process. We are moving forward, but for those who are eagerly awaiting the vaccine it may feel like the pace is slower than molasses. 
Here are some things you can do as we begin to roll out more vaccine opportunities.
Stay informed. The Kossuth County Public Health hotline is an easy way to do this. Call 515-295-4450 anytime, any day of the week to hear a recorded message about vaccine clinics, who is currently eligible to receive it, how to sign up for an appointment and other updates. We prefer that you call this line for this type of information, which keeps phone lines open for urgent calls and other communication needs. You can also visit for these details and other health updates. We will continue to work with local media outlets to keep people informed.
Expect changes. Changes happen quickly and constantly. For example, just over a week ago only people aged 75 and older could receive the vaccine with Phase 1B; now it’s open to those who are 65 and older. In early January we thought it might be spring before we could move onto the next vaccine phase, now here we are distributing it in February. One day vaccine doses are coming, the next day they are delayed. We understand the frustrations and confusion these changes can cause. Unfortunately, many of them are outside of our control. Anticipate that changes may happen as we move forward with vaccine clinics – we appreciate your flexibility.
Understand why this vaccine is different. Many people have asked how this vaccine is different and why the process is taking so long. One issue is how the vaccine is stored and the timeframe in which doses must be used once they are opened. The temperature and storage needs are complicated, even for the Moderna vaccine. This vaccine doesn’t need the “ultra-cold” storage but still has temperature requirements. Vaccine doses come in groups of 10, and we don’t want any to go to waste. This means the vaccine must be given in specific group sizes, not just one person at a time on various days. These challenges, combined with an overall lack of supply, have slowed down distribution. 
Continue safety practices. Distributing the vaccine will be a long process. Now is not the time to give up on the safety practices we have been talking about since March. Wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from others and staying home when sick are still important actions to take that can impact your health and the well-being of others. 
Lynzie Nilles is the director of Kossuth County Public Health and Community Health and Hospice of Kossuth Regional Health Center.

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