While dealing with an increased number of patients in local hospitals, Cerro Gordo County preparing for booster dose COVID vaccinations

MASON CITY — US health officials this week announced plans to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans starting on the week of September 20th to shore up their protection amid the surging Delta variant and evidence that the vaccines’ effectiveness is falling.

The plan, as outlined by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other top health authorities, calls for booster doses eight months after people get their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health director Brian Hanft says the county is getting prepared for the implementation of booster doses locally.  “We knew that they had already come out about this for immunocompromised people and we can work through that, but right now that’s just escalated the amount of work that local public health and our partners are going to be working through. We’re reaching out to Mercy to see how we might otherwise communicate with them and get that messaging dialed in.”

Hospitalizations due to COVID continue to rise in the north-central Iowa medical region. There were 10 COVID patients in north-central Iowa hospitals at the start of the month. That number has tripled to 31 on Thursday and 30 as of this morning. It’s nine more than were in the hospital back on Tuesday of this week. Hanft says while that’s nowhere near the 100 people hospitalized in the region back in November, the rising numbers are worrisome to local hospitals.  “We’re nowhere near that third wave last November but we’re catching up to it quickly. Inundation with the ICUs and the emergency departments is definitely a concern.”

Hanft says there’s also a growing concern in the state about treating children with COVID-19.   “I know when it comes to kids and putting kids into intensive care units, at least this Mercy is not very well prepared to handle a large volume of kids. Primarily, University of Iowa Hospitals and Des Moines are the only two locations that have the capabilities to really deal with kids in a broad context, and they’re full.”

Of the 30 patients currently in north-central Iowa hospitals with COVID, eight are in an intensive care unit, with seven of those eight being on a ventilator.

Hanft, who made his comments earlier this week to the Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors, says about 95% of the patients in the hospital currently for COVID have not been vaccinated. 

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