MASON CITY — Today is the first day that the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health will be using the old Sears store in the Southport Shopping Center as a central location for COVID vaccinations.
The department’s disease prevention and health promotion manager Karen Crimmings says they had already started planning for setting up an immunization clinic last February. She says the wide open space of the building is a big help. “We know what stations we need. The biggest thing is with this particular virus is the social distancing. When we did N1H1, there were a lot of people in there, and we can’t do that. We just can’t open the doors and let the public in this time. We need to make sure that social distancing is going on, getting people scheduled, making sure we have a big enough site that we can spread out the crowd was a huge goal of ours.”
Crimmings says they have to get the primary “1A” group fully vaccinated first, and they are at about 91% complete with front-line workers such as nurses and doctors, as well as long-term care residents and staff. She says the “1B” group, which focuses on all Iowans 75 and older and other high-risk populations, will likely start getting their vaccines starting after February 1st. “So as long as vaccine comes, I think we can get to February 1st. When I say we’re at 91%, that’s with the primary dose, that’s not getting their second dose.”
Crimmings reminds people that you should not come to the building thinking you’ll get vaccinated unless you’ve already had a time scheduled. “The amount of vaccine and the amount of appointments that we have available, they match. So if you come in, we don’t have vaccine for you. We haven’t reserved it because you don’t have the appointment. Make sure you get an appointment.”
Under an agreement with the Southport Limited Partnership ownership, the county is using the old store space rent-free with the county only having to pay utilities and cost of taxes.