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Iowa to add COVID-19 ‘vaccine navigators’ to assist those 65 and older with appointments

A new website will also assist Iowans with information about vaccines and eligibility
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 11:50 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Gov. Reynolds on Thursday announced the state is launching a new website and dedicating a team at the 211 call center to assist Iowans with COVID-19 information and vaccine appointments.

The website, vaccinate.iowa.gov, will launch on Friday with the latest information about vaccines and when residents are eligible for them. It will not be able to schedule vaccination appointments, or register people to be contacted for appointments. But it will provide contact details for vaccine providers.

During her Thursday press conference, Reynolds said the state knows that most of the vaccine information and scheduling process has been online, and that may be difficult for some older Iowans.

To assist residents who may be struggling with technological barriers, the state is adding a dedication team of what they’re calling ‘vaccine navigators,’ to the 211 call center. This team will specifically assist Iowa residents 65 and older who are struggling with technological barriers.

The call service will be available starting the week of March 8, for those 65 and older. However, some vaccine navigators will start on Friday by contacting older Iowans who have reached out to their area agencies on aging for help scheduling an appointment.

Iowa's projected COVID-19 vaccination timeline.
Iowa's projected COVID-19 vaccination timeline.(KCRG)

Reynolds expressed optimism about the vaccine distribution in Iowa.

She announced that state allocations of vaccines will again increase, this time by 1 million doses. The federal government also expects to start forecasting state allocations up to two - three months in advance beginning next week. Reynolds said that should help states plan their distribution.

The FDA has not yet given emergency use authorization for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, but plans are already underway to distribute it. Reynolds announced Iowa would receive 25,800 doses in the state’s initial allocation.

Johnson and Johnson plans to provide 20 million doses of the vaccine by the end of March, and 100 million by the end of June.

“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 helping make this possible” Reynolds said. “The progress we’ve made over the last several weeks, is pushing us towards a turning point in our COVID-19 recovery, and I’m committed to this forward momentum in Iowa.”

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