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Despite expanded vaccine eligibility, Lee County focuses on previous priority groups

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FORT MADISON (WGEM) -- Officials at the Lee County Health Department said while new guidance from the state health department has opened the vaccine up to many more Iowans, they're focusing on completing vaccinations in previous priority groups.

The new guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health went into effect Monday and makes the vaccine available to those 64 and younger with certain medical conditions like obesity, pregnancy, high blood pressure and current and former smokers.

But administrator Michele Ross said, for now, the health department will not be taking making vaccination appointments for people who fall into that category.

"We're going to continue to vaccinate those that have been waiting for a while," she said.

Ross said the health department is getting 300 to 500 doses each week and is making short work of their callback list.

"Our original list was over 4,000 individuals waiting and we're a little less than 1,000 left on that list," she said.

County residents said they're noticing the the turnaround time is going down.

"About three weeks ago I think I signed up for the list and they told me it was 3000 they had ahead of me at the time so I was surprised I got a call yesterday," Fort Madison resident Dean Sweezer said.

He said getting vaccinated is very important to him.

"My three sons want me to come get it because they don't want to bring anything in to me," Sweezer said. "I don't have a spleen, I have kidney disease."

Ross said getting a dose will get easier as the state's vaccine supply continues to increase.

"We do hope that additional pharmacies and health clinics will also start receiving vaccines once supplies start to increase for Iowa," she said.

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Blake Sammann

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

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