Iowa remains on track to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility as state allocations increase

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 12:15 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Gov. Reynolds on Wednesday said Iowa remains on track to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to more Iowans by April 5.

When vaccine eligibility does expand, Iowans age 16 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine and those 18 and older will be eligible for the Moderna or J&J vaccine.

This comes as Pfizer announced on Wednesday its vaccine is safe and effective for kids as young as 12.

However, Reynolds urged patience saying the state knows there won’t be enough supply of vaccines to vaccinate everyone immediately.

The state is also expanding the 211 Iowa vaccine appointment scheduling service to those age 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions. It was previously exclusive to those age 65 and older. The service is available to assist those facing technological or language barriers in scheduling vaccination appointments.

The federal government is also expected to expand the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination. But information about how many, or which, pharmacies in Iowa will be added to the program has not been made available yet.

Reynolds also said the White House COVID-19 Response Team told governors the federal government will be increasing the vaccine dose allocations to states next week. States and territories are expected to receive a combined 21.4 million doses.

In Iowa, it will be the largest allocation to date, with nearly 120,000 doses for the state and another 41,000 for retail pharmacy partners, for a total of nearly 161,000 doses of vaccine.

Reynolds’ also unveiled new efforts by the state to work with private and community colleges to support student and staff vaccinations. She said they’re working to vaccinate students and staff before they leave for summer vacation. This is expected to protect families over the summer and make it so staff and students will be safe upon returning for Fall semester.

Next week a small allocation of vaccine doses is going to Dordt University (in Sioux Center), Northwestern College (in Orange City), University of Iowa and Des Moines Area Community College.

In the weeks following, larger amounts of the J&J vaccine are expected to go toward this effort to vaccinate students and staff at colleges.

Gov. Reynolds said that though there has been an increase in positivity rate recently, the state has not seen evidence to suggest it’s leading down a concerning path.

Iowa Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia attributed the recent increase to Spring Break travel and the presence of other variants of the virus in Iowa.

Reynolds and Garcia advised getting vaccinated as soon as possible, and taking whichever vaccine is available soonest. Garcia stressed that this advice went for young healthy people as well.

They also stressed maintaining measures to mitigate the spread of the virus as the state continues to work to vaccinate more Iowans.

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