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Vaccine supply has caused snags in distribution plans

PRINCETON — Phase one of local vaccine distribution is well underway Health Department officials say, but there are still some snags in the rollout.

Bureau, Marshall and Putnam County Health Department’s Public Information Officer Terry Madsen said this week they are wrapping up vaccines for some of the first tier health workers in Spring Valley and some other emergency responders who have not yet been vaccinated.

“Once we wrap that up then we will wait to hear what the allotments and delivery dates for next week will be,” Madsen said. “Once we know that we hope that we’ll be able to start setting the next appointments in all three counties.

“There are right at 11,000 people in the over 65 age group in all three counties. (7,000 in Bureau County, 2,700 in Marshall County and 1,300 in Putnam County). The number of essential workers is harder to estimate but we are thinking a few thousand. Of course, we don’t know how many will want the vaccine, but they are all important to us and we are committed to getting them vaccinated as soon as we can. When that will be will hinge on the flow of vaccine supply,” Madsen said.

In Bureau County, coordinating the vaccination effort with the hospitals has gone very well so far, according to Madsen.

Perry Memorial Hospital has been partnering with the health department to vaccinate the 1As (first tier health workers) and St. Margaret’s has been handling the east side of the county. The model is expected to be similar going forward with public vaccinations.

St. Margaret’s has also offered to help with Putnam County and the health department is utilizing its staff and recruited nurses in Marshall County.

“The biggest issue we have faced has been the uncertainty about vaccine supply and timing,” Madsen said. “So far, it has been a case of getting 200 doses, vaccinate 200 people, then wait. It has made planning very difficult, but we expect that as more vaccines becomes available we will be able to get into more of a rhythm for the process. That will be critical for vaccinating larger numbers of folks.”

Madsen said winter has not helped either. While drive-thru testing has been able to go on on cold, windy days, vaccinating, and the 15-minute observation period, is making drive-thru approaches very difficult.

“So, we’ve adjusted. And, even though the clinic locations are good inside, conditions especially snow and ice can change outside, and we need to keep some eyes on that,” he said.

“Hector (Gomez, BMP Health Departments administrator), Laurie (Geuther, director of nursing) and Kurt (Kuchle, director of health prevention) have been working hard to keep the process rolling often by making changes and improvements as we learn from experience. The rest of the team has come together to do whatever it takes at the time regardless of their normal role and that’s been helpful. No one is taking a ‘not my job’ approach.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we go forward. We know full well how important these shots may be to some folks and the team here is going to do everything they can to get everyone vaccinated as soon as we can, but realizing that it is a process that will take weeks and months for some,” Madsen said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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