Elise Wennberg — Staff writer
It has been four months since the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved for major healthcare workers in the US, giving hope the world may soon return to normal. Since then, more vaccines have been released and each state has been progressing through their respective vaccine rollout plans.
While exact plans vary state-by-state, the CDC has a recommended guide for organizing priority groups. The first group (1A) includes essential healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents. The second group (1B) includes people over the age of 75, frontline essential workers, first responders, agricultural workers, and educators. The third group (1C) includes individuals over 65, people over 16 with underlying at-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers.
As availability increases and more people are vaccinated, the general public will be able to have access to the vaccine.
The state of Iowa had been operating on an amended version of phase 1B since January under a vaccine shortage order. Effective March 16, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has amended the order to include individuals 16-65 with at-risk medical conditions, allowing all members of group 1B to register.
Several professors at Dordt University have had their first round of vaccination, despite not technically belonging to a priority group due to confusion surrounding who is considered an educator. This especially occurred at Sioux Center’s Hy-Vee. Bob De Smith, professor of English, recalls being invited to receive the vaccination through Dordt as a part of group 1B, his wife, a K-12 teacher, also signed up during that time. De Smith will be fully vaccinated around the third week of March.
“I’m hosting a conference in April; about a dozen people will come to campus to attend.” De Smith said, “I’m really happy for me as a host—and not just for my safety but for those around—that I will be fully vaccinated. We will take precautions, of course, but I’m glad to say I will not be able to receive the virus nor pass it to others.”
Mark McCarthy, a history professor at Dordt, also received his first dose through Hy-Vee amidst the confusion. He experienced side-effects five days after he received the first dose of the vaccine.
“I had a stiff arm from the shot, but nothing bad after until one morning I woke up with chills.” McCarthy said, “When I was getting ready for work, something was off. I reread the description of the side-effects and thought, ‘Oh that fits to the T.’ I had chills, a headache, joint pain, muscle pain…I felt like I had been run over by a truck,”
About 1.1 million people in Iowa have been given the first dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson vaccines. There are 408,000 people who have been fully vaccinated, which is about 13 percent of Iowa’s population. About 7,000 individual vaccines have been given out in Sioux County, which has a population of around 34,000.
Though more people are becoming vaccinated, the CDC recommends continuing to take precautions in public as the effect of vaccines on the spread of COVID-19 is not fully known. However, fully vaccinated individuals are allowed to interact indoors without wearing masks.