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MCC prepares vaccinations for students, staff

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Students, staff and faculty at Marshalltown Community College will get the chance to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting in mid-April.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is returning to Marshall County, and this time will go to the Marshalltown Community College.

Iowa Valley Community College District Chancellor Kristie Fisher said initial conversations between the school and government officials indicated the vaccines will arrive in mid-April.

“I received an email letting me know the governor’s office was going to prioritize future doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for colleges,” she said. “I was delighted. I have watched the campus as things have been returning to normal. This is one step closer to the new normal, which I hope looks like what it did pre-pandemic.”

Fisher had 24 hours to act after she received the email. She moved quickly and since then, the new vaccine effort at MCC has been fast-paced.

“This has all happened in the last 36 hours,” she said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccines will only be made available for staff, faculty and students at the college. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was previously in Marshall County only once on March 3 when it was distributed to JBS employees.

There is no firm date as to when the first shipment will arrive to MCC, which Fisher said will occur weekly. She also was not told how many doses to expect in total.

“All community colleges were asked to get estimates on students and staff who wanted it,” Fisher said. “We are working on it, but I figure there will be between 500 to 700 students. A fair number of staff have already gotten vaccinated because they were eligible.”

Since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has only been approved for people age 18 and older, most dual students from Marshalltown Community School District will not be eligible to receive it.

Fisher said some MCC athletes are going to wait to get inoculated.

“They want to get it as soon as their season is over, because they won’t take it during,” she said. “I think they don’t want to take the risk of not feeling good or having a sore arm for a day or two and then missing a game.”

Due to the unknown number each week, IVCCD has been asked to be flexible when it comes to scheduling vaccine clinic days, and how big of a space will be necessary. Fisher said a couple spots on campus have been picked as potential clinic sites. She said the college is getting some assistance from Marshall County Public Health, UnityPoint and McFarland for the effort. Having a professional medical partner was a requirement put forth by the state.

“They said, ‘You get the doses and we will be there for you,'” Fisher said. “We are going to do whatever our healthcare partners tell us. We figure they have been doing this for weeks, so we are going to rely on them. We are planning a safe and effective clinic.”

Marshall County Public Health Nurse said the county is still only getting 500 doses of the vaccine — the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer – each week. That will not meet the demand when everyone becomes eligible to receive the vaccine on Monday.

“You will be eligible, but that does not mean a vaccine will be ready for you because of the limited numbers,” she said. “There is not enough for everybody, but there will be. People still need to be patient.”

Thompson said making online appointments at healthcare providers websites is the most efficient way to get scheduled. However, since some people do not have the internet, she suggested calling 211.

“They will help you get it if you are not online,” she said.

Thompson reminded people to continue wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining social distance and staying home if they are sick.

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

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