County converts former Sears into vaccine center

by Marianne Gasaway

The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health is now using the old Sears store in the Southport Shopping Center in Mason City as a central location for COVID vaccinations.

The department’s disease prevention and health promotion manager Karen Crimmings provided a tour of the building for media last week, prior to its opening.

Crimmings explained the wide open space of the building made it perfect for the volume of people the department expects to be able to serve in the weeks to come.

“The biggest thing with this particular virus is the social distancing.  We just can’t open the doors and let the public in.  We need to make sure that social distancing is going on, getting people scheduled, making sure we have a big enough site that we can spread out the crowd was a huge goal of ours,” said Crimmings.

CG Public Health reports it has vaccinated about 91 percent of the primary “1a” group which includes  front-line workers such as nurses and doctors, as well as long-term care residents and staff. The “1b” group, which focuses on all Iowans 75 and older and other high-risk populations, will likely start getting their vaccines after Feb. 1. 

Sunday evening the department “inadvertently posted” a sign-up sheet for COVID-19 vaccinations on its Facebook page.  The errant post was removed within hours, however, those who scheduled an appointment through the post and who meet the Phase 1b priority group specifications, will receive their vaccinations.

Officials remind people that they should not come to the building unless an appointment has been scheduled.  

“The amount of vaccine and the amount of appointments that we have available, they match. So if you come in, we don’t have vaccine for you. We haven’t reserved it because you don’t have the appointment. Make sure you get an appointment,” said Crimmings.

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