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Changes coming for Lee County COVID vaccination procedures

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FORT MADISON (WGEM) -- Lee County health officials said Tuesday falling community demand for COVID-19 vaccines is forcing them to re-think how they're getting vaccines into arms.

On Monday health department officials said they're concerned about the drop-off in those looking to get vaccinated.

Administrator Michele Ross said the health department held a drive-thru clinic on Saturday but was only able to administer 109 of 900 available doses.

She said that came after the health department had to recently had to turn away 300 of their 500 Moderna doses allocated by the state.

Community health program manager Emily Biddenstadt said they're looking for new ways to connect people with the vaccine.

"We're in the process of looking at how we can work with our community partners, maybe some churches, some food pantries, maybe some specialized businesses to see where we could go to do a pop-up clinic," she said.

Biddenstadt said their focus is now bringing the vaccine to people, instead of having it them come to it

"Pop up clinics are going to be great because they're going to be in the community and where people are going," she said.

Biddenstadt said having the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine back will be helpful in their fight to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

"It's very convenient for those who are homebound, maybe those who have a busy schedule, maybe those who work off hours or off-shift hours," she said.

Nearly 400 people came to the health department parking lot on Tuesday for a second dose clinic. Those getting vaccinated said it's important to them to be protected.

"People just need to stay informed. You need to go online, read all the information you can," landscaper Greg Stuecker said. "These vaccines are safe."

Stuecker said he sees what's going on in states like Michigan where cases are surging and it worries him.

"It's very important for everybody to get the vaccine right now," he said. "This is the only way we're going to get our lives back to normal."

"They need to help us get there and help us get vaccinated," Biddenstadt said.

Biddenstadt said the county is also changing the way the report their coronavirus metrics as they've changed where they're getting their numbers from.

She said before, their numbers came from the state's public coronavirus website which counts by tests regardless if they're from the same person.

Now their numbers will come from a non-public Department of Health website that only counts by individuals tested.

Biddenstadt said they made the change after they got questions about the numbers last week and said it will be a more accurate picture of the virus' impact.

"It's going to show the active case counts, the positive tests, it's going to show our seven day and 14 day positivity rate along with the percentage of the county that has been fully vaccinated," she said.

The change has caused Lee County's active cases to fall from the triple digits down to just 49.

The county's 7-day positivity rate stands at 1.9 percent while the 14-day positivity rate stands at 2.6 percent.

25.4 percent of Lee County residents are now fully vaccinated.

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Blake Sammann

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

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