The progress on getting tri-state area residents vaccinated is steady, if slower than we would like.
While signs of hope and progress have emerged, local residents must remember to remain patient and keep practicing safety protocols such as wearing masks. Not only are mandates still in place in Dubuque and Dubuque County, but safety protocols in tandem with increased vaccinations also will help lead to increased community activity in 2021.
But there is still a hill to climb. In Dubuque County, public health officials continue to try to serve with vaccinations the 17,000-plus people in the 65-plus category. As of Monday, about 7,400 in that group had received at least one shot — 1,600 had completed the regimen.
That’s still a decently long way to go for a cohort that largely has found this entire process stressful.
In the absence of a statewide structure in place to assist people with signing up for a vaccination, Iowans have been scouring pharmacy websites at all hours of the day and night, hoping to stumble upon open appointments. That method has worked for some and left others with less computer savvy feeling completely frazzled.
Credit goes to Dubuque County COVID-19 Incident Management Team for helping fill that void locally with a vaccine hotline for 65-and-older residents who do not have a regular health care provider (563-587-4950.) With so many residents in that age group — even those with medical providers — still waiting to hear some guidance, the hotline was inundated with more than 1,000 calls right off the bat.
It’s understandable. People want answers. People who are 65 or older keep hearing about others getting the vaccine, but nearly half of them haven’t figured out how to get in the queue. Waiting on a phone call from a health care provider can be nerve-wracking.
That’s where the “be patient” mantra comes into play again. Hang on — help really is on the way.
Just this week, the State of Iowa should distribute more than 100,000 doses of vaccine. That includes 25,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received federal approval Sunday.
Some 17 counties will get those doses, and Dubuque County will be among them. This iteration requires just one shot, so hundreds more will quickly move to the fully vaccinated category.
These are trying times, and the waiting can be tedious. But we have come through the darkest days. A little more patience and cooperation could get us to a much safer place in a matter of months.