Greater Regional Health Board of Trustees heard Monday via telephone that the hospital has received doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 and up.
“We did get the Pfizer just last week,” Gwen Buck, Chief of Ancillary Services officer said. Buck added that Greater Regional Health will continue to offer Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and will be delivering 200 doses of the Pfizer shots to Hy-Vee.
“We don’t care, get vaccines in arms, we want to help people,” she said about the variety of brands.
Buck said vaccine hesitancy grew when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had to be halted and the public began to shed doubt on the safeness of all COVID-19 vaccines. She added anecdotally the degree of alarm about the coronavirus and the vaccines differ by age group.
“People that are older, they still remember polio, the polio outbreak,” she said. However, the younger generations don’t believe that people still die of the flu annually, she claimed.
Doses will be administered through the primary care clinic to address vaccine hesitancy. Buck said people who are skeptical of the vaccine will still likely get the shot if it’s recommended by their primary care provider. A representative with Buck during the call cited clinical research that echoed her sentiment.
Greater Regional Health has been discussing how it can put out more information that is evidence-based.
“Because a lot of people would like to believe what their friends on Facebook say moreso than what public health says or what the CDC says,” she said.
“We’re excited about the Pfizer,” she said. “We have to watch age range because that’s 12 and above.”
She added kids will be anticipating the vaccine so that they can participate in sports and activities without precautions or fear of spreading the disease.
“If you’re fully vaccinated and you get exposed, you don’t have to quarantine,” she said.
Currently 35.5% of Union County is fully vaccinated. Buck said the county positivity rate is becoming harder to track.
“Union County’s positivity rate is constantly fluctuating,” she said. The positivity rate continues to change throughout any given day but the seven-day positivity rate is 2.5% including three new reported cases, which she attributes to less people getting tested.
“It does show that with less people that are being tested, your positivity rate can really go up and down,” she said. “A couple weeks ago, we had a higher percent that was up in the teens again, there were two families with four or five members per family that was like, ‘well...?’ and then a few days later, it went back down.”
The CDC updated its guidelines stating fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear a mask indoors or outdoors. Given that proof of vaccination is confidential, Greater Regional Health will still be requiring people to wear a mask to protect non-vaccinated patients and staff.