Dubuque County officials ask for employers’ help as vaccinations proceed

Dubuque County public health officials told members of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that any preparations that qualified employers can make in relation to vaccinating staff will be critical to the process.

The county COVID-19 Incident Management Team is working with the chamber and other business organizations to prepare lists of personnel who qualify under the current priority tier to receive a vaccination. That includes food, agricultural and manufacturing employees who work where social distancing is not possible, based on Iowa Department of Public Health rules.

“People must be in one of the sectors identified,” said City of Dubuque Public Health Specialist Mary Rose Corrigan. “And manufacturing is pretty broad. Not all the workers in those sectors would qualify — for instance, if they’re administrative and working from home.”

Local health officials expect this group to be one of the largest priority categories to qualify for vaccination to date, so they seek help from businesses.

“The closer they can work with us, the better, whether that is adjusting their work hours to allow them to meet the needs within that short, one-week time frame we have to give the vaccines,” said Visiting Nurse Association Administrator Stacey Killian. “It’s not always feasible to say we can do it all on a weekend or in the evenings.”

Corrigan also recommended employers break up the days on which employees are scheduled for vaccinations, in case of mild side effects.

“A person may have chills or be tired and not be able to come to work the next day,” she said. “Those go away after 12 or 24 hours or so, but you don’t want to have all your critical people who have to be there to be vaccinated the same day.”

The team is just starting work on vaccinating employees of these qualifying industries. Qualifying employers already should have been contacted by either the Dubuque chamber, Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce or Greater Dubuque Development Corp. If they have not, employers in these sectors can email Samantha.Kloft@dubuquecounty.us.

The incident management team also unveiled the list of essential-worker industries targeted for vaccination in the next tier:

Transportation/logisticsFood serviceHousing construction and financeInformation technologyCommunicationsEnergyLawMedia

“If you’re an employer in one of these categories, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how you’re going to do this,” Corrigan said.