‘Turning the corner’
Governor visits mass clinic at Crossroads Mall
Gov. Kim Reynolds said getting a COVID-19 vaccine, when possible, is the right thing for all Iowans to do.
“It’s safe and it’s the right thing to do,” said Reynolds during a visit to the mass clinic at Crossroads Mall in Fort Dodge on Saturday. “We would really encourage them to do it. Not only to protect themselves but to protect others.”
Reynolds recently received the Johnson & Johnson version of the vaccine, which requires just one shot.
“I feel great,” Reynolds said. “I was really happy to be able to do that and just ensure Iowans, first and foremost, that it’s really important to get the vaccine when it’s available. And I wanted them to know that all of the vaccines were safe and would help protect against COVID-19.”
Reynolds said she’s pleased with the number of Iowans who have been vaccinated to this point.
“We are doing a great job of getting Iowans vaccinated,” she said. “We are close to 80% of Iowans 65 and up. We have done all of our long-term care, our assisted living. We have also vaccinated over 70% of our educators and staff — our day care providers as well as our first responders.”
Reynolds was complimentary of the job the Webster County Public Health Department has done delivering the Moderna vaccinations. Those require two shots. Over 700 appointments were booked for Saturday.
“It is a great model of what other areas can do,” Reynolds said. “And it’s one of the reasons I am here today.”
The mass clinic has four different wings within the mall. Patients don’t have to leave their chairs during the process. And the total time it takes to receive the vaccine is typically less than 20 minutes.
On Saturday, the residents receiving the Moderna version of the vaccine were receiving their second dose.
Reynolds said she anticipates a “significant ramp up” on the number of vaccines available in March and April. She said the department has demonstrated it can handle an increase in the number of vaccines allotted to the department.
“They have the capacity to do more, are willing to do more,” Reynolds said. “They just need the vaccines. And that’s really what we’re looking at because we need to know, regionally, as the numbers ramp up.”
She added, “It’s facilities like this and operations like this that lets us know they are ready. They have the capacity to do more. They indicated they could extend out in each of the wings (within the mall). And they have other options within the community to do other types of drive-up. They have other areas that they can help facilitate and manage another mass clinic. This is standing out as a great example of somebody that is ready to go and ramp up. I think they said, ‘Just get us the vaccine and we’ll get it done.'”
She described the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a “game changer,” saying the state could receive more of that brand in a couple weeks.
“To think that it’s just a single dose, especially with businesses, it’s a reliable vaccine and that is a game changer because it’s a single dose,” Reynolds said.
The governor is happy that more residents are eligible for the vaccine.
“We opened up to 64 and younger that have underlying conditions because they, too, are a vulnerable population and so I am excited we are able to move into that tier and provide vaccines for those Iowans as well,” Reynolds said.
She enjoyed seeing the faces of those receiving vaccines.
“I see a lot of smiles on a lot of faces for Iowans,” Reynolds said. “To think that this is their opportunity to get back to some normalcy and back to life. That’s very heartwarming to see that and to know we are moving closer all the time. People still have to be responsible. We aren’t there yet. We have been at this a year, so people know what they need to do. But as we get more and more Iowans vaccinated, we really are turning the corner with COVID-19.”