NEWS: COVID-19 vaccine in Oskaloosa

A nurse draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe on Dec. 23.

Information is starting to trickle out for how the public can get their COVID-19 vaccine shots, but they remain scarce and appointments are filling quickly.

A very limited supply is highly sought after, and officials caution it will be several weeks before everyone who wants the vaccine can get one. Both of the two currently approved COVID-19 vaccines require two shots to be effective.

Mahaska County Health continues to say more information will roll out soon on vaccine distribution. On a podcast last week, Mahaska County Public Health Coordinator Patty Malloy said the county was expecting just 100 doses this week and is working with the state to try and secure larger shipments.

Once information is available, it will be distributed through local media as well as through several channels offered by the county. Citizens can sign up to receive information directly through MahaskaAlert — which offers text and voice alerts to cellphones, landlines and emails. Information will also be posted at MahaskaHealth.org and distributed through Mahaska County's various social media pages.

Marion County, which received 500 doses to distribute to its eligible citizens, is offering its residents several places for vaccinations, beginning Feb. 1 through Feb. 5.

Seniors are encouraged to receive the vaccine from their local pharmacies, and those 65 and older are currently eligible. For this week, Marion County has received 500 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which will require a booster shot 28 days following the initial dose. Those being vaccinated should plan to return to the same provider that gave them their first dose.

Around mid-week this week, the following pharmacies will each receive 100 doses of the vaccine: Hy-Vee Pella, Hy-Vee Knoxville, Pella Regional Pharmacy and Knoxville Medicap. Another 100 doses are available during a vaccination clinic at Knoxville Hospital and Clinics, scheduled for Thursday.

Marion County residents can sign up through their pharmacy directly to reserve an appointment, which will be limited.

For the Hy-Vee pharmacies, there will be a signup website at https://www.hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/covid-vaccine-consent to schedule an appointment, once they receive the vaccine.

Appointments at Knoxville Hospital and Clinics for the Thursday clinic were already filled as of Monday afternoon. Locals expressed frustration on the hospital's Facebook page, where they announced that appointments had been filled.

Several people indicated they had attempted to call more than 100 times. The hospital's CEO, Kevin Kincaid, replied to a comment stating the hospital did the best it could but can't possibly meet the demand of the thousands of interested residents. "We are in short supply with ultra-high demand, every solution is crappy and we realize that," he wrote in the reply.

The Herald is maintaining contact with public health officials for Mahaska County and Marion County, and will provide information in print and online as possible as the COVID-19 vaccination is distributed.

Officials are currently vaccinating the first tier of Phase 1B, which makes those 65 and older eligible as well as first responders, firefighters, police officers and child welfare workers. High-risk Pre-K-12 school staff and early childhood education and childcare workers are also eligible, and public health is working with those entities directly to schedule appointments.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at kocker@oskyherald.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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