, Im Iowa City Mayor, Bruce Teague. Vaccinations for the COVID 19 virus are well underway across the country, including right here in Johnson County., As Iowa moves to the new priority group. We wanted to go over. Who is eligible for the vaccine and how it will be distributed. And joining me today is Susan Vileta of the Johnson County Public Health Department.. Thanks for joining me, Susan Hi, Mayor Teague., Glad to be here. Bruce. Yes, so excited that youre here today, because the COVID 19 vaccine is definitely on the minds of many people and we have moved into a phase 1B and we want to learn what is that about. Tell us. Susan Right, yeah. Were happy to be here right and Were happy that so many people want to be vaccinated., But at this point were right in you know the phase 1B. So those 65 and older can be vaccinated through the whole phase, 1B., So its not like theyre at the beginning or the end theyre through the Whole phase – and there are these five tiers, then that have been determined by the Iowa Department of Public Health, along with that IDAC committee, Bruce OK., Susan, The Infectious Disease Advisory Council. – Tier one includes preschool through 12th grade staff members, childcare workers, firefighters, police officers, other kind Of first responder types. Tier two, So we finished your one first before we hit two would be food agriculture, manufacturing type workers in spaces where they cant social distance.
. So not every factory at every distribution center, but a place where folks cant distance either where they live or work in that work, setting. And then also individuals with disabilities living in home settings and their direct care, staff., Thats tier two., Then tier three is staff and Individuals living in congregate settings not college dorms at this point and then our government officials working at the state capital during legislative, session. And then four is hospital, long term care and child safety inspectors Bruce OK., Susan And then team five. So there are five that are set up: correctional facility staff and individuals that are incarcerated. Thats, five. Bruce. So how will people be notified? Because this is, I mean, its a list and theres some inclusions? What youre talking about factory workers.? So how will people be notified that theyre eligible Susan, Great question., So for those 65 and older right now, where weve started is with our hospitals and pharmacy? Partners. Were really lucky in our county that we have so many people available to distribute the vaccine to administer it to folks.. We have lots of pharmacies, we have our two hospitals right, So it just makes the most sense for us to utilize those spaces first.. I know a lot of people are asking us about different community sites for vaccinations and we might get there down the road.. But right now the safest and most effective places are those places and so were starting with those 65 and older that UIHC and Mercy are drawing on patients that theyve had in the past.
Soon, maybe even today, in the next few days, those folks that havent seen A UIHC or Mercy provider in the last two years, dont freak out too much., Were counting for the rest of you as well. Again thats, just the starting point., And so those folks will have an ability here very shortly to call a number and get some more Information to be counted., As far as the employer side of things that you will want to talk to your employer, about. Were looking very closely with the schools and the childcare centers and the police and the firefighters.. So we will get you where you need to go for the vaccine by working with leadership at those different organizations. Bruce, And I think that makes a lot of sense as far as reaching out to the directors of agencies and businesses.. But when it does come down to like the elderly, as you mentioned, you know, starting with the hospitals, I do have questions about equity and how is that being considered? Susan, So do we. Bruce … about this approach. Susan Yeah. One simple thing you know were hearing from many in the community that a lot of older residents have. Some of them are on social media, but plenty of them arent as well., And they said What about us. You know weve heard horror stories from friends in other states that are, You have to have a computer., So were making sure that folks can call.
Weve stressed this with every partner that it cant be electronic. Folks need to be able to call. So thats. Just you know one tiny example. For folks that speak different languages for folks that you know might still a little hesitant in need of information. We have a team of folks here, still working on, ensuring that those peoples needs are taken care of, as well. Were working with Free Medical Clinic as we speak. One of my co workers is to kind of figure out a plan working with vaccinations out of there. Its a matter of time before all of those other things get going. Equity is something thats very important for us.. But again I cant stress enough: thats a starting point., Again youre, going to see in the next several days other ways that our older residents have access to sign up so to speak.. Theres no list theres no sign up right this minute, but well be giving further instructions on what they can do. Shortly. Bruce Great.. Well, it leads me to another question about prioritization of our teachers.. Schools will be forced to offer 100 in person options, and so one of the questions that come immediately is how will teachers be prioritized in getting the vaccine and how soon will they be able to get vaccinated. Susan, So weve been instructed so far we have to Do 50 from those 65 and older and the other 50 need to be from those tiered sort of occupation lists.
. So, for instance, when you get several hundred vaccines a week and they have to be distributed, half and half between those two groups. You can imagine theres. Just not a lot to go around., So what weve done is work with a lot of those partners with schools for instance. Theres, a range of workers within a school right So theres. Maybe your special education teacher that, for whatever instance, maybe some of those kiddos cant wear masks or they refuse or theyre, not great at it right So should that person have a little bit more of a you know: priority Theyre right there up. You know up in the face of kiddos that may or may not be able to wear masks and are facing different difficulties with distance as well versus. Maybe somebody that works in office and they dont have to get close to any students., So were essentially working with all of those employers to almost create a tiered list themselves. Bruce Sure. Susan …, because we cant just send the whole school right away., So were trying to be diligent and about figuring out whos, most at risk and most exposed and get them in for vaccination. First. Bruce. I have no doubt that theres a lot of information or a lot of conversation happening about when to bring people in how to bring people in.. One of the questions is: how long will you be in this phase before going to another phase, Susan Ooh.
Bruce laughing Susan? I wish I had one of those magic 8 balls at my desk.. You know weve heard the State and the Governors office and the IPH at different press conferences weeks ago now, throwing out different months or different seasons of the year and in all honesty, Johnson, County, Public Health hesitated saying April, or it will be through this in May, Or this will happen in July because we dont want to give any false promises. We just dont.. If we knew exactly how many vaccines were getting each week, we could do simple math from all these different groups and figure out when everybody would be vaccinated in our county., But were not getting that number.. We dont know you know. Bruce Sure. Susan. Some weeks we get several hundred, not several thousand., So its impossible. To tell at this point, and what I like to tell people is, is were in the business of telling the truth. And the unfortunate truth right now is we just dont know how long it will be to get through these phases. Bruce? Is there any way for people to go online and see where you are, what the number of vaccinations, or to even stay, on top of what phase youre in Susan Yeah. Bruce …, who qualifies Susan Good question., The state launched a website part of a website that Will show you how many vaccines have been administered in each county and then how many actual residents of that county that theyve been administered to.
? I have those numbers in front of my face: Bruce All right Susan, So as of today, 241698 Iowans have received the vaccine. 21666 in Johnson. County residents have gotten it and 30862 people have gotten the vaccine in Johnson County likely because they work here right. The goal really and the intent right now is wherever you work is where folks are getting the vaccine. So thats on their website and thats also on the Johnson County website, theres a link to it. So theyre. Updating that every couple of days now so its interesting to see across the state how everybody is progressing., Bruce Well thats really helpful for people to get online and have the access.. So there are some people that are uneasy about the vaccine and taking the vaccine.. So what would you say to those individuals who actually may have the option right now to take the vaccine? Susan Mhm., I understand your concern thats. The first thing I would say, and that knowledge is power.. You know the amount of new information that we all have tried to figure out and get in our brains and share with family and friends in the last year has been so overwhelming to say the least. So thats. The first thing I would say, and its everybodys personal decision and they have to educate themselves. And as someone who has worked in public health for 12 years now, I suggest you get your answers. You know from scientists and sources like Johnson, County Public Health and the Iowa Department of Public Health and CDC and healthcare providers.
You trust in our community for folks to make your decision because theres a lot of misinformation out there. Bruce. There is a lot of misinformation and I would agree: people go to the source. Look at the science, listen to the scientists behind the vaccine. One question I do have and Ive been hearing this a little bit. Can people who get vaccinated actually spread the virus? Susan Good question good question., So while the vaccine will likely prevent you from getting sick at all or at least seriously ill, its really unknown, if you can still carry and transmit the virus to others after being vaccinated., Scientists arent completely sure yet so you have to Assume that once you have the vaccine, it might still be possible., So still mask and still distance. Until we know more. Bruce Yeah, I think thats wise, you know always cover yourself abide by the precautions.. But one of the questions I have is: how long do you believe the vaccine will protect individuals that take it? Susan, Ugh people arent going like this answer? Either. Were not sure yet. Were not sure. Were not. You know completely sure how long natural immunity lasts and not completely sure how much immunity from getting the actual vaccine will last as well. Bruce. I think you know a part of the challenging conversation about the vaccine is having conversations like this, where its true facts. Right now, in the moment of whats known. One thing we learned about COVID is that updates about information comes all the time.
Susan, So true. Bruce You know, and so I really appreciate all the Johnson County Public Health is doing because you all have been leaders here And I thank you so much for all youve done.. Is there anything else? You want people to know out there, Susan, The one thing. Another thing I didnt get to say about safety that I think people should hear Bruce are that the vaccines are. You know proven to be effective and safe among very different groups right, So they looked at age, they looked at gender., They looked at race, ethnicity, obesity and the presence of other diseases., And it worked as well in all those groups., So thats, something that people really Need to know. The other thing. I think that frightens folks is how quickly it was developed, and so even though the vaccines were developed quickly, theyre still required to go through the exact same testing, the same standards to make sure theyre safe. No step has been skipped or standard has been skipped.. I know many people are continuing to research and kinda learn more about MRNA vaccines. Scientists have been studying and working with, MRNA and Coronaviruses for decades. So thats. I think another important learning piece that actually helps speed up the process as well., So it wasnt like this was brand new information that folks hadnt heard of in terms of Coronaviruses or MRNA.. One of the reasons why weve chosen the methods that we have so far and working with our hospital partners and pharmacy partners is, we would rather have folks be patient, which I know is a really hard word right.
Cos we wan na make sure everybody is counted.. I feel the same way about my friends and family members.. I feel the same way about the whole community.. I wish I could get people to understand that., But we also dont want people to be frantic.. I know youve all seen that around the country, whether thats folks waiting outside in lines, whether that is calling and calling a pharmacy or a healthcare provider or trying to get online quick and steal that last appointment.. And while that might happen, as things roll out here were doing our best to make sure that things arent frantic and were trying to communicate as best as we can to each and every audience.. But we also need your help, which is why were so thankful that youre doing this and that we hope people continue to reach out to us and then spread these good messages as well. Spread? This accurate information, like you, said, thats, changing all the time Mayor Teague.. We got ta keep up and we have to help each other to keep up whether thats you need something in a different language or you need a member of Public Health to show up at your community coalition meeting to learn. More. You tell us., You tell us and we will be there. Thats, the message that we want folks to know.. We want everyone to get their questions answered, so they can make their decision about this. Vaccine.
Bruce. I think thats awesome because I think offering more communication with the people is going to be key, and this is certainly something that is available in our community.. We have a lot of you know, individuals that are getting it.. There are some who still have questions and I think the conversations are going to be pivotal for a lot of individuals., So really appreciate all that youre doing.. Thank you so much for being a part of today. I really appreciate all that the public health is doing here in Johnson County. Keep up the good work. Susan. We appreciate the support from our community leaders too.. Thank you. So much Bruce Thats our show for today. For more health resources and updates visit icgov.orgcoronavirus. There. You will also find details for the Citys face covering order. Well be back next week with another episode of Community Connection.. Until then remember to wear your mask practice. Good hygiene and social distance from others. Take care, Iowa, City.