Dubuque County and the City of Dubuque have opened a call center as part of their new collaboration on a second vaccination site, with lines open now.
As of April 5, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ order that all the state’s residents 16 and older now qualify for a vaccination against COVID-19 has gone into effect. To provide easier access to vaccines, the partners have created a “SleevesUp!” hotline at 563-690-MAKE(6253) for all county residents.
“While many residents are able to search for vaccines online or get assistance from family and friends, the call center was established to assist residents who want to be vaccinated but are unable to get an appointment on their own,” read a release from the City of Dubuque on Monday afternoon.
And while the city is a partner, whose fire department will operate a second site at a drive-through location at Grand River Center beginning next week, Dubuque County supervisors stressed that the call line and site are open to all county residents.
“The city of Dubuque set up the venue, but the call line is a county line,” said Supervisor Ann McDonough during a meeting April 5.
The Visiting Nurse Association will continue to operate its phone line — 563-587-4950 — where staff has fielded more than 40,000 since the pandemic began. But, it will direct those seeking a vaccine appointment to the new service.
The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors voted, 2-1, April 5 to join a memorandum of understanding with the city to fund the new vaccination site and call center, to the tune of around $90,000 — $47,000 of which will be the county’s responsibility. McDonough and Supervisor Jay Wickham voted in favor. Supervisor Harley Pothoff voted against.
In addition to the new site at Grand River Center, the Dubuque County COVID-19 Incident Management Team is looking at temporary vaccination sites to reach demographics currently being missed.
“We’re trying to reach this vulnerable population who don’t have the mobility,” Pothoff said April 5. “I think we need to have better outreach, whether it’s ‘Today at the park at 24th and Jackson’ or ‘Today at Point Place (apartments)’ — anywhere there’s a large residential community where we can allow members of the vulnerable populations to just walk in and get it rather than having to commute someplace.”
VNA Administrator Stacey Killian said wheels are already in motion to address just that.
“We feel like we’ve done a great job getting that structure in place,” she said. “Now we’ll have the additional (site) with the fire department. We’re still missing that link of going where people are. It’s very formal out here at the (distribution sites.) That can be intimidating for people. Finding something a little closer, smaller and more intimate might help people.”
County Health Department Director Patrice Lambert also told supervisors that the vast majority of individuals in the state’s Phase 1B vaccination priority group, who want the vaccine, will soon have had it.
“If we were to get the allocation we have been getting, we will be very close to homing in on those in that group,” she said. “I would not say next week by the end of the week, but in two weeks.”
That is one of the milestones that could trigger the county’s mask mandate to expire. So, the Dubuque County Board of Health plans to meet on that topic on Wednesday, April 14.