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Marshall County turns away vaccines

contributed photo Marshall County was offered 600 vaccine doses this week but accepted only 200 and will only take 200 next week.

Marshall County has joined 79 other counties in Iowa which have denied some COVID-19 vaccinations.

Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson said she only accepted 200 vaccine doses this week, and will only take 200 next week.

“I was offered 600,” she said. “Right now, we have more than we need.”

Thompson finds some irony in the situation as one month ago, she kept saying as soon as more vaccines are offered, Marshall County will take them. However, now she is turning some away as the demand has significantly dropped.

“People are still coming in and saying they want it, but I was not expecting such a big drop until June,” Thompson said. “I certainly was not expecting the drop in April.”

If the county did accept all 600, the challenge would be administering the doses, which are all Moderna. Now, before a vaccine vial is opened, it is good until the expiration date which is printed on the outside. Thompson said each container is checked for an expiration date and all of the ones Marshall County has now are set to go bad in October. So, there would be time to utilize all of the doses.

The trick is after a vial is opened, it needs to be used within six hours. Thompson said there are 10 doses in each Moderna vial. Health care officials would not have as much of a challenge if it was the Pfizer variety, as only five doses are in each vial.

The vaccines are being provided by UnityPoint, McFarland, Primary Health Care and Hy-Vee, which opened the option of walk-in vaccinations on Wednesday. Thompson said while appointments might not be absolutely necessary any more, some people are still choosing to make them.

“They are just not making them in droves anymore,” she said. “Opening to walk-ins, providers want to make sure the vaccine is available. And Hy-Vee, people can go get vaccinated while they are waiting to pay for their groceries.”

Even though the demand has slowed quite a bit, Thompson said people still need to practice the COVID-19 pandemic precautions — wear a mask, social distancing, wash hands and stay home if sick.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health COVID-19 website, there have been 5,157 cases of the virus within Marshall County, and 75 deaths.

The website also reports 4,952 people have initiated the first shot of a two-dose series, 9,886 residents have completed the vaccine series and 2,145 opted for the single dose Johnson & Johnson. The Johnson & Johnson version was held for 11 days after it was suspected of causing six blood clots. Authorities determined the benefits outweighed the risks.

“If you haven’t yet, please get your vaccine, because it will help us all,” Thompson said. “Get it so that you don’t have to quarantine, and you can enjoy this nice spring weather.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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