CLIMBING HILL, Iowa -- Some of rural Woodbury County's first responders took part Wednesday in the Siouxland District Health Department's first COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
About 100 paramedics and EMTs who serve towns outside of Sioux City received their first dose of the vaccine at the Woodbury County Emergency Services building.
Jerry Kelley was one of the first, and said he had mixed feelings about the vaccine.
"I know there are a lot of rumors going around, there may be side effects to them," said Kelley, a Woodbury County Emergency Services paramedic.
Every ambulance call can be a potential exposure to the virus for rescue squad members. Kelley, of Sioux City, said he transports probably two COVID-positive patients every shift.
"You never know when you're going to be around it," said Kelley, who added that he's had the illness himself.
The clinic, which was offered by scheduled appointments only, is the latest round of vaccinations of people in the Phase 1A priority group, which includes doctors, nurses and other health care providers.
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Siouxland District Health Department deputy director Tyler Brock said Wednesday's vaccinations were the first the health department had administered in a clinic setting. An estimated 2,000 vaccinations have been administered in Sioux City's two hospitals and other primary care offices since the first shots were given on Dec. 17.
"This is probably the first time we're out of the hospitals," Brock said. "This is the first clinic we have done at all."
In a news release earlier Wednesday, the health department said that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being administered in Woodbury County.
Siouxland District Health has been working with the county's health care facilities to vaccinate Phase 1A priority populations, focusing thus far on hospitals and primary care facilities. Next week, the health department will begin vaccination clinics at its office via prescheduled appointments with health care workers not affiliated with a hospital or primary care clinic.
Walgreens, CVS and Community Pharmacy chains are coordinating vaccinations at long-term care facilities.
Vaccinations will continue for members of the 1A priority groups in coming weeks before moving on to the next priority group. The health department will share information on procedures for that group once it's available.
"We ask that individuals not call to 'get on a list' to be vaccinated. Physician offices will be contacting individuals that meet the priority definitions to alert them when vaccine is available to them," the health department said.
It may be late spring to summer before adequate quantities of the vaccine are available for anyone in the general public, the health department said.
The Dakota County Health Department on Wednesday announced it would soon be moving into Phase 1B of the vaccination effort and offer the vaccine to residents age 75 and older. The department is setting up appointments with residents now. To schedule an appointment, call (402) 404-9469 for English and (402) 404-1187 for Spanish.