JOHNSTON (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday that she’s optimistic vaccinations of Iowans will accelerate due to the impending authorization of a new one-dose coronavirus vaccine and increased deliveries of the two-shot varieties.
Speaking at her weekly news conference, Reynolds said 19.2% of eligible Iowans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and nearly 53% of residents 65 and older have had a first dose.
Reynolds credited the federal government for increasing the production and delivery of vaccines to states.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that the progress we’re seeing now will only continue and I do appreciate the partnership of the federal government in making this possible,” she said.
She projected that by next week, 70% of first responders, health care workers in hospitals, K-12 teachers and staff and childcare workers will have received at least one dose.
By mid-March, she expects 70% of Iowans 65 and older to have received at least a first dose.
The next priority group expected to be eligible for vaccinations in March is essential workers, which will include people in meatpacking plants, food processing, agricultural production and manufacturing. People with disabilities living in home settings and staff at those facilities also should begin vaccinations in March.
Reynolds projected that the remainder of the eligible Iowa population may begin getting shots as soon as April, although she said that timing could change.
She said White House officials in a call with governors promised to increase distribution by 1 million doses beginning next week.
Iowa’s allocation is expected to grow to 91,100 doses, including the first batch of more than 25,000 of the new single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Reynolds said Iowa is no longer planning a centralized registration and vaccine scheduling website, as other states have established. She announced last week that the state had dropped plans to pay Microsoft for such a system.
Instead, a new state website will launch Friday and will provide information about eligibility, links to vaccine providers and other information. Iowans will still have to look up a provider and go to that pharmacy or clinic’s website to register and sign up for a vaccine appointment.
For those over age 65 with no internet access or ability to use the online option, Reynolds said that beginning March 8 the state will provide vaccine navigators through the state’s 211 help center to help set up appointments at Hy-Vee grocery store pharmacies.
Elderly residents who have called their Area Agency on Aging and left contact information will be getting a call from a navigator to help schedule an appointment, she said.
State health data indicated 23 additional deaths to the coronavirus on Thursday for a total of 5,438 deaths since the pandemic began last March. The state reported another 699 confirmed positive cases and 227 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.