Staff at the MercyOne hospital in Sioux City got their first vaccine doses Thursday.

The Iowa Department of Public Health has updated its estimate on the number of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it expects to get.

IDPH reported Thursday that it now expects 138,300 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine to be delivered to Iowa by December 27th — or about a 20% decline from what it originally thought.

The Health Department issued a statement Tuesday there would be a 30% decline, before updating the numbers Thursday. The department also says there are more doses in the Pfzer vaccines than first thought and they are reviewing how to proceed there.

The vaccine continues to be delivered across the state and Sioux City’s two main hospitals were able to start vaccinating employees Thursday. MercyOne nurse, Lisa Torres, was one of the first frontline workers to get vaccinated and says it was routine.
She says it was like any other vaccination as she felt the alcohol swab, but didn’t feel the needle or injection.

Torres says it is important to her and the staff who work with Covid-19 patients to be vaccinated. “I was anticipating being able to do this and I am just grateful that I had the opportunity to be here to be at work and be involved in something like this,” she says, “I do care for a large amount of these patients.

MercyOne’s Chief Nursing Officer, Tracy Larson says the vaccine is a bit positive after months of fighting the virus. “We’ve heard the vaccine is coming, it’s coming, it’s coming, and when it’s finally here and we are able to give these first vaccines — it truly is the start for us of really being able to see that light shinning bright at the end of this tunnel,” according to Larson. “It is still going to take some time and we have a ways to go — but today it gives us hope and it gives us optimism that we are going to be able to get our arms around this pandemic.”

The first round of vaccinations includes team members with the highest COVID-19 exposure risk. The hospital staff have the option of not taking the vaccine, but most of them have signed up to receive it.

(Photo and story by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)