The Dubuque County COVID-19 Incident Management Team on Feb. 3 provided detailed cost estimates for the vaccine point-of-distribution and administration site they have planned at Kennedy Mall.
When the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors approved the lease agreement for the site — inside the former Younkers department store — it was for a no-cost space rental and $10,000 for utilities over five months. But county staff said then that there would be more costs to run the site.
The Dubuque County Board of Health got a look at those costs at its meeting Wednesday night.
All told, for five months, the estimated cost will be $126,815.
The biggest line item is for personnel.
The county plans to pay Dubuque Police officers and Dubuque County Sheriff’s deputies $45 per hour to provide on-site security. Emergency Management Director Tom Berger explained that security was needed to avoid eager residents swarming the place. That cost, over the five-months, is estimated to reach $36,000.
The county will need an on-site paramedic, for $40 per hour, to care for any recipients that have negative reactions to the vaccine. That would come to $32,000.
There are also steep costs associated with getting the site ready to open.
Staff are estimating $10,000 to $15,000 for IT infrastructure set-up, then about $200 per month for IT services and a backup WiFi system. This is crucial because health care providers must enter each dose they administer into the Iowa Immunization Registry Information System.
Another $7,200 is estimated for signage. The county also will need to rent tables and chairs, which will cost $16,500 by the end of the five-month run. Then another big cost is seasonal, with $7,000 for snow removal.
But, according to Dubuque County Health Department Director Patrice Lambert, the county general fund should not have to foot these bills. “We have various places where we can look for funding to cover this,” Lambert said. “The IDPH grants are some. We still have COVID money from the county.”
This site, though, is only going to be as helpful as the amount of vaccine doses the county receives at any given time.And Lambert reported Feb. 3 night that Dubuque County had still not received most of the 2,650 doses the team expected to receive this week.
“The 700 Moderna (doses) did come in,” clarified board of health member Diane Pape-Freiburger. “We did not receive the 1,950 Pfizer.”
The 700 doses of the Moderna had been used first to finish up the final health care workers yet to be vaccinated, but enough of the vaccine remained to schedule doses for the county’s first responders.
Using census data, the incident management team found that the county had 20,854 residents who qualified for the vaccine in this phase — 300 first responders, 17,819 residents over 65, 2,385 k-12 school staff, and over 350 child care workers.