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Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health prepares for next COVID-19 vaccination phase

MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health is preparing for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Director Brian Hanft says they are asking people to monitor local media, social media, as well as sign up for the CodeRED Alert system which will inform the public on upcoming vaccination time slots.  “We’ve asked for people to sign up for the CodeRED notification system the city currently uses and we’re going to use the CodeRED notification system to let people know that we will be posting that we will have time slots available. The CodeRED is not going to tell people that there are slots available, it will just tell them when they’ll be able to go to our web link and be able to actually start to put their name in for time slots.”

Hanft says one of the issues in getting the vaccine distributed is they only know from week to week how much vaccine they are getting.  “The problem is we get notification that we’re going to get vaccine one week ahead of time, and that leaves us very little time to get out notification to the public and also have time slots set up in the sign up software that we’re using. A lot of things have to happen in a short period of time, so when we get those slots available, they’ll sign up 48 hours ahead of when they’ll actually probably get the vaccine.”

Hanft says they know there will be some people that don’t have access to the internet to sign up. One suggestion he has is asking for help from friends and family.  “If they don’t, what we ask people to do is reach out to a loved one, a family member, a neighbor, even somebody who doesn’t live around here, they can log into this site and leave the information for their loved one who lives here, and sign them up for them and get a time slot.”

Hanft says the department will also be setting up a hotline for people to call who don’t have internet access.  “The other option that we’re going to have available is we will have a call center, a phone number that we will publish — we haven’t put it out there now because we just don’t want people calling because we don’t have anything set up quite yet, but we will next week —  if people need help signing up for a vaccine time that we will have volunteers here taking those calls and we’ll collect that information from people and enter that into the system.”

The next phase will focus on all Iowans 65 years old and older and other high-risk populations who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 or at high-risk for illness as a result of a coronavirus infection. It also includes some essential worker categories such as pre-K through 12 school staff, early childhood education, child care workers, firefighters, police officers, and dependent adult abuse and child welfare workers.

Hanft made his comments during the weekly City of Mason City & Cerro Gordo County COVID-19 news conference. If you missed it, you can watch it below


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