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Lee County kicks off drive-thru coronavirus vaccination clinics

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FORT MADISON (WGEM) -- The Lee County Health Department hosted their first drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic Tuesday in the parking lot of the old Iowa State Penitentiary, in an effort to work through the roughly 3,500 names on their waiting list.

Organizers said while they'll still continue to administer vaccines inside the health department building to other segments of the population included in Phase 1B, they wanted to make the process easier for those 65 and older.

"We just kind of wanted to cater to that population where they won't have to get in and out of their car," community health program manager Emily Biddenstadt said.

"They can just drive up, get their vaccination and head home."

She said the process is simple, with cars checking in, pulling forward to get the vaccine then heading to an observation area.

"They will have a 15 to 30 minute wait with our observers to make sure that they're feeling ok," Biddenstadt said.

She said they hope to make the drive thru clinic a regular occurrence but it all depends on their vaccine supply.

"Today we're doing just over 100 and for the week we're hoping to do around 250," Biddenstadt said.

"We've had a few things, a few kinks were going to have to work out but I think it's gone smoothly."

Those who were able to receive doses on Tuesday agreed.

"It went smoother than I possibly though it could have for what we've been seeing," retired farmer and St. Paul resident Larry Steffensmeier said. "It couldn't have gone any better."

He said it was important that he, his wife and her aunt all got their shots.
"Oh, get back to normal,"Steffensmeier said. "See the grandkids and live life the way it is supposed to be."

Biddenstadt said they know everyone is anxious to get their dose but said the best thing people can do is be patient.

"We know they're eager, we know they're ready for this to happen," she said. "We are too and so we ask people to be patient and we're going to get through this and we're going to get through this as quickly as we can."

Biddenstadt said the drive-thru clinic is by appointment only.

She said those on the waiting list need to wait for a call from the health department to arrange the date and time of their appointment.

She said those wanting to get on the waiting list need to call 319-376-1077.

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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