Until Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, Moderna’s vaccine does not have to be kept in ultra-cold storage and state officials say that means it’s being sent to rural Iowa locations. The first shipment of Moderna vaccine arrived in Iowa Monday.
“All 99 counties are receiving an allocation of the Moderna vaccine in this first shipment,” Reynolds said, “and will continue to receive it going forward.”
Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in traditional freezers, while the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit in specialty freezers, so it’s being kept at larger hospitals in urban centers. Jason Harrington, CEO of Lakes Regional HealthCare in Spirit Lake, said Pfizer’s vaccine also comes in lots of a thousand doses each.
“The Moderna vaccine comes in much smaller lots and the logistics of trying to, in a rural community, get a thousand doses out in a relatively short period of time is really difficult,” he said, “so Moderna has actually two positive effects on rural communities.”
Harrington’s hospital in Spirit Lake is getting 300 doses of Moderna’s vaccine today and 200 doses next week. He says the hospital’s nurses, doctors, housekeepers, food service workers and receptionists who interact face-to-face with patients will get the shots first. Next in line will be other health care workers in the community who are in what Harrington describes as “patient facing” roles — eye doctors, dentists, dental assistants and pharmacists. After that, other hospital employees who don’t interact directly with patients can get vaccinated.
“Our hope is that by next week, that we’ve vaccinated the vast majority of health care providers in Dickinson County,” Harrington said.
State officials say this sort of scenario is being planned by rural hospitals throughout the state. While the governor describes this as a turning point in the pandemic, she’s also urging Iowans to wear a face mask in public places and avoiding indoor gatherings outside of your home to reduce the spread of the virus until the state vaccination rate increases significantly.