Dikkers stresses safety, ease of COVID vaccine as county sees low demand

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


Iowa is turning away nearly three-quarters of its allotted COVID-19 vaccine doses for next week due to low demand.  According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the state declined 75,280 of 105,300 doses.


IDPH said 88 counties, including Clayton, had declined at least some of their vaccine allocations for the week of May 10. That’s an increase from 80 counties that declined doses this week and 43 counties last week.


“We’re offered  a certain number of doses every week, and if we’re not able to fill appointment times, we end up with excess vaccine. We don’t want to take it if we can’t use it,” explained Dr. Michele Dikkers, chair of the Clayton County Board of Health. “We’re not turning it down because we don’t want to give it, but because there are not enough people who want it.”


The number of COVID-19 vaccination doses administered to Iowa residents last week totaled nearly 157,000.


As of May 3, IDPH said 2,300,751 doses have been administered to Iowans. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44.7 percent of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 35.6 percent of residents are now fully vaccinated. That’s up from 43 percent and 31.7 percent, respectively, a week ago.


In Clayton County, 650 series have been initiated for a two-dose vaccine, while 5,548 series of a two-dose vaccine have been completed. Additionally, 467 people have completed a single-dose vaccination.


The CDC reported 35 percent of Clayton County residents have been vaccinated—up 2 percent from a week ago. That includes 45 percent of people age 18 and over and 72 percent of people age 65 and over.


“I think Clayton County has done a good job of vaccinating anyone who wants it,” said Dikkers. “We are in the upper half of the percent of the population that’s vaccinated compared to the rest of the state. That’s something to be said for a rural county.”


Dikkers said a county vaccine coalition meets weekly to figure out how to effectively “get shots into arms.”


“We’re looking at doing whatever we can to be flexible,” she stressed.


Dikkers said some people may be putting off vaccination because an appointment doesn’t fit well into their schedule. Vaccine providers have tried to adapt by holding evening and weekend clinics, visiting people in their homes and even setting up clinics for businesses.


All residents have to do is call (563) 245-2064 to be directed to a pharmacy or clinic.


“Getting the vaccine is free and easy. It’s very available now, and it doesn’t take a lot of time,” Dikkers said. “We are a population of convenience, but sometimes you have to decide what’s important. It’s not just about you, but protecting the people in your life.”


Dikkers understands residents have safety concerns related to the vaccine as well. She stressed its safety.


“The Johnson & Johnson is really like any other vaccine you’ve gotten in your lifetime. It’s similar to the flu vaccine, and we know that’s safe,” she said. “Smokers and women on birth control are actually at higher risk of getting blood clots.”


“The type of vaccine that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are has been studied for over 10 years,” she added. “So that’s also safe.”


To reach herd immunity, Dikkers said the goal is to have 70 to 80 percent of eligible people vaccinated. Although she’s happy with Clayton County’s current vaccination numbers, she’d like to see the total increase another 10 to 15 percent “to feel more comfortable.”


“If we’ve been vaccinated, we know we are safe with others who have been vaccinated. But it’s tricky to know who’s been vaccinated,” Dikkers said. “I think we’ll still need to wear masks in larger group settings for awhile. But I’m hopeful there will be a push to get vaccinated so we can start to feel pretty comfortable.”


— — —


COVID-19 remains active in the area. Eight positive tests were reported in Clayton County over the past week, according to data from IDPH. The county’s total was at 1,769 positive tests as of May 3.


Over two weeks, 14 positive tests have been recorded.


The county’s 14-day positivity rate, which measures the percentage of positive tests in that span, currently sits at 1.7 percent. Over seven days, the positivity rate is 1.1 percent.


IDPH said Iowa had 130 positive COVID-19 tests on Monday. The state’s total number of positive tests is at 395,477, an increase of 2,919 from a week ago. 


Overall, Iowa’s 14-day positivity rate is 4 percent and the seven-day rate sits at 4.4 percent.


As of Monday, 181 people around the state were hospitalized, up two people from last week. Of those hospitalized, 45 were in the ICU. 


No COVID-19 related deaths were reported in Clayton County over the past week, according to IDPH. Since the start of the pandemic, 56 Clayton County residents have died.


There have been 5,959 total deaths in Iowa, including seven reported on Monday. Per IDPH, 32 Iowans have died as a result of COVID-19 in the past week.

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