Eastern Iowa hospitals react to new vaccination orders

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 8:04 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -There is a way Iowans outside of the priority groups to get a COVID-19 vaccine now. Governor Reynolds went into detail about that change Thursday, to give out extra doses of vaccine to anyone.

The CEO of Virginia Gay Hospital in Vinton Michele, Michele Schoonover says they welcome this change. Not only does it get more shots in arms, but this rule avoids wasting precious vaccines.

That’s why they are very careful with the amount of vaccines they bring to places to make sure they are not wasting any. Each vial has a short shelf-life. If it’s not used quickly once taken out of the freezer, it will not work.

So if a vial has extra doses after vaccinating a priority group, the state is letting providers give those doses to anyone. Virginia Gay has a section on its website where people in Benton County can put themselves on the waiting list to get the shots. The hospital then prioritizes that group to call when there is an extra dose.

“We’re still going to prioritize,” said Schoonover. “But it gives us more of a database to prioritize on that.” The hospital will also reach out to people on the waiting list if they are holding an event in their city and has extra doses.

Workers at Mercy Iowa City are also applauding the order. “I think that every potential vaccine dose can save a life,” said Dr. Stephen Scheckel, MD, Chief Medical Officer.

Hospital workers who apply for the vaccine at Mercy Iowa City are put on a waiting list. They will reach out to people on the list if there’s an opening.

“If we happen to, we have a bench,” said Scheckel. “Or a waiting list that we can call that can come in at the last minute to receive a dose.”

Both hospitals want to maximize the number of people vaccinated, especially considering how few doses are available. “It’s our best chance to get our country back to a semblance of normal,” said Scheckel.

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