April 22, 2021

Iowa plans to open vaccines to all residents on April 5

JOHNSTON (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday that all Iowa residents will be eligible for coronavirus vaccinations on April 5 as long as supply projections are met.

The federal government is promising a surge in supply in late March that will enable enough vaccinations to meet much larger demand, Reynolds said. Until then, vaccinations are available only to adults in certain occupations, people older than 65 or those who have qualifying health conditions.

Iowa received nearly 119,000 doses during the week of March 1 thanks to an increase in the availability of the new one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Weekly allocations fell to nearly 95,000 for the week of March 8 and to just over 86,500 for this week. Next week will be about the same, and then the week of March 29 Iowa’s allocation is expected to rise to around 200,000 doses a week. In April it could ramp up to nearly 300,000 doses a week as the national supply approaches 29 million doses.

Reynolds said the White House coronavirus team will update states next week to confirm those numbers will hold.

“More vaccines means opportunities to vaccinate even more Iowans, and communities across the state are partnering to make that possible now and preparing to serve even more people as more doses become available,” the Republican governor said.

Iowa initially planned to contract with Microsoft for a vaccine scheduling system but dropped the idea after Reynolds said it would take too long and might be disruptive to the vaccination progress. That means Iowans must make their own appointments through a pharmacy, clinic or local public health department, and there have been numerous complaints that finding time slots is difficult.

Despite concerns about the scheduling process, Reynolds argued the main issue was adequate supply. She offered assurances that the state is ready to handle the added demand.

Iowa has about 370,000 fully vaccinated — about 17% of the population — and about 756,000 people, or 24%, with at least one shot, according to officials.

With 2.1 million people older than age 18 eligible to get a vaccine in Iowa, that would leave 1.3 million people still eligible. National studies have shown nearly a third of eligible adults indicate they may not get the vaccine, which would leave just under 870,000 people yet to get in line.

Reynolds confirmed Wednesday that about 30% of long-term care workers in Iowa declined the vaccine, a figure she said was in line with the national average.

She acknowledged a level of vaccine hesitancy among some. Studies show it’s highest among the Black population, women, people who identify as conservatives and people with strong religious views.

Reynolds said while it is a personal decision, it’s important for people to get vaccinated to end the coronavirus pandemic. She said the state will “continue to educate Iowans on why it’s the right thing to do.”

Iowa reported 601 new coronavirus positive cases and 15 additional deaths on Wednesday.

The Iowa Department of Public Health also confirmed it has found 38 additional cases of the COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom in Iowa.

State Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati said in a statement that it’s critical for Iowans to continue to practice virus safety measures, including wearing a face mask and practice social distancing.