COVID-19 vaccine clinics begin at Franklin County long term care facilities


Rehabilitation Center of Hampton Administrator Kathy Meyer-Allbee received her first round of the COVID-19 vaccine last week.
By: 
Travis Fischer
Staff Reporter

Staff and residents at the Rehabilitation Center of Hampton and Leahy Grove Independent and Assisted Living received their COVID-19 vaccine last week as the vaccine rollout continues across the state.

Iowa's long term care facilities are going through a different process to get the vaccine than other health care workers. Where the local public health department has been receiving an allocated number of vials to distribute to area health care workers, long term care staff and residents are working with large pharmacy chains to have the vaccine distributed to them.

"Very early in the process, we partnered with CVS/Omnicare for vaccines to be administered via the Pharmacy Provider Vaccination Program as they already service several of our locations for pharmacy and consulting services," said Alexa Mayner, ABCM Corporation Chief Operating Officer.

Long term care staff and residents are receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which was the first of the two vaccines approved by the FDA for distribution. The vaccine consists of two doses, which must be taken three weeks apart.

For the staff in Hampton, receiving the long-awaited vaccine was a morale-boosting event, marking what they hope will be the beginning of the end of the pandemic after a very long year.

"To me, you could feel the positive vibes in the air throughout the day," said Kathy Meyer-Allbee, administrator at the Rehabilitation Center of Hampton. "You could feel the reenergized hope in those receiving the vaccine and gratefulness for the opportunity to fight COVID-19."

Getting staff and residents inoculated against COVID-19 has become a top priority for ABCM Corporation as they are eager to see an end to the pandemic so that their facilities can resume normal operations.

"The only way to bring this horrible pandemic under some measure of control, and to someday resume the life and work practices that we so took for granted before 2020, is to have enough people get vaccinated that the virus will burn out," said Mayner.

"We feel very strongly that the vaccination is an important step in defeating COVID-19 and reopening our facilities to family and visitors," said ABCM Corporation CEO Richard Allbee, who himself received the vaccine in Dumont earlier this month.

Meanwhile, in Sheffield, the Sheffield Care Center's COVID-19 vaccination clinic is scheduled for Friday.

The care center has been eagerly awaiting their first round of vaccinations, waiting for the pharmacy companies to make their way down the list to them for their January 22 clinic.

The long wait has been frustrating as staff and residents watch other health care providers get vaccinated ahead of them.

"Our residents continue to hold onto hope," said Administrator Katie Watters. "They wake up every single day and are grateful. Regardless of all that is happening, they continue to count their blessings and they truly have seen the worst of this pandemic."

The Friday clinic will offer a vaccination to every staff and resident that wants one.

As of Monday, January 18, a total of 1,017 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the county, increasing the county total from the week prior by 36. This is a reduction in new cases, showing a decline in the spread after a spike following the holidays.

Of the total positive cases, Franklin County Public Health is reporting that 79 are elderly (age 81+); 204 have been older adults (61-80); 265 have been middle-aged (41-60); 338 have been young adults (18-34); and 126 have been children.

With 832 cases considered recovered, there are currently 167 known active cases in the county, a slight increase from last week.

Franklin County Public Health also reported their first COVID-19 related death of the New Year last Tuesday, bringing the county total up to 18.

In the county, 4,422 individuals have been tested at some point during the pandemic, with a total of 14,424 tests being performed on Franklin County residents. In the last 14 days, 14.8% of individuals tested have been positive for the virus, bringing the positivity rate down after a spike in the previous week.

In the Hampton-Dumont School District, an unspecified number of cases were confirmed on January 12 and 13 at the high school and on January 14 at North Side Elementary.

At Franklin County's long term care facilities, the Rehabilitation Center of Hampton is reporting no current cases or symptoms among its residents or staff, but has reported one staff member currently showing symptoms.

Likewise, the Sheffield Care Center currently has no staff or residents positive for the virus.

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