Iowa hospitals urge COVID-19 booster shots amid rising hospitalizations

Iowa has reached a new high for the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 10:51 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Unity Point Health - St. Luke’s Hospital and Mercy Medical Center on Thursday released a joint statement urging residents to get a COVID-19 booster shot as cases and hospitalizations are on the rise.

It comes after the state reported the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide in a year.

In the statement, Mercy said it is treating 32 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and 27 of them are unvaccinated. Of the five vaccinated people, only one has received a booster shot.

“We clearly noticed an initial benefit once the booster shot became available,” said Dr. Tony Myers, chief medical officer at Mercy Cedar Rapids. “The booster is highly effective in keeping people out of the hospital and reducing their chances of having severe illness. We are strongly urging people to get the booster.”

St. Lukes said it is treating 49 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with 12 having been vaccinated. Only three have received a booster shot.

“People who have received the booster shot do not appear to be having the breakthrough infections requiring hospitalization we are seeing with those who are not boosted,” said Dr. Dustin Arnold, chief medical officer at Unity Point Health - St. Luke’s Hospital. “With the holidays fast approaching, this is a critical point in time for individuals to boost their defenses against COVID-19.”

Cedar Rapids hospitals began offering booster doses in late September after the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization.

The boosters are available for people 18 years of age and older six months after they have received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine, or two months after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The booster doses can be received at local pharmacies where the COVID-19 vaccines are available and at hospital affiliated clinics. Appointments can be scheduled at

Both Mercy and St. Lukes said they are prepared to handle the increase in hospitalizations. Both continue to accept and treat patients. The hospitals say they have plans in place for expanding capacity as needed.

The state of Iowa also recently announced it is contracting 100 traveling healthcare professionals to assist facilities in enhancing capacity and reducing emergency room wait times.

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