116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
JOHNSTON - All of-age Iowans should be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday.
Reynolds said as long as the federal government fulfills its projected allotment of vaccine doses to Iowa in the meantime, the state will open eligibility broadly - not just to priority groups.
'Getting vaccinated is the most important thing that each of us can do to ensure that our state's recovery from COVID-19 is both strong and sustainable. We all want life to bet back to normal,” Reynolds said Wednesday during a news conference at the Iowa PBS studios in Johnston.
Reynolds said widespread vaccination is the key to Iowa businesses rebounding, graduation ceremonies being held in-person, parishioners fully attending churches and families reuniting.
'All these things are possible, and soon. But like everything else over this past year, it will depend on all of us doing our part for the greater good,” Reynolds said, encouraging Iowans to pledge to get vaccinated and encourage their family, friends and co-workers to do the same.
Iowans who will become eligible April 5 should not yet attempt to schedule a vaccination appointment. Reynolds said she will provide another update next week after another conference call with federal officials.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 425,000 people have completed getting their COVID-19 vaccination from Iowa providers, and another 320,000-plus have received the first dose of the vaccines that require two doses, according to state public health data.
As supply of the vaccine has been limited since the rollout started in December, the state prioritized different population groups to become eligible to receive the vaccine. It started with health care workers and long-term care residents and staff, then expanded to include older Iowans, first responders, teachers and education staff, food processing and manufacturing workers, and correctional facility staff and inmates.
Earlier this month, eligibility was expanded to include any adult Iowans with a serious health condition.
Roughly 2.1 million Iowans are 18 or older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines are authorized for people ages 18 and up, while Pfizer's has been cleared for those 16 and up.
Reynolds and interim state public health Director Kelly Garcia expressed confidence that the state and local public health departments, in conjunction with private health care partners, will be prepared for the influx of Iowans hoping to make an appointment starting April 5.
Garcia said the capacity to move more doses is there; the challenge has been having sufficient supply to distribute.
'We're working on it every day. Every single day,” Reynolds said.
She said the state is constantly working with different partners in the business and nonprofit sectors to expand the distribution of vaccines as more doses become available.
A spokeswoman for the public health department in Polk County, the state's most populous, said the county in conjunction with its health care partners has the capacity to vaccinate 50,000 people per week.
'We are well-positioned to administer an increased number of doses in Polk County,” spokeswoman Nola Aigner Davis said.
More variant cases
An additional 38 cases of the COVID-19 variant were confirmed Wednesday by the state public health department.
Infectious disease experts believe this new version of the virus, often called the U.K. variant because it was first detected there, spreads more rapidly.
Early testing indicates the existing COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the new variant.
The state public health department encouraged Iowans to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available, and to continue to practice safe public health behaviors like washing hands, maintaining 6 feet of social distance, wearing a face covering in public and staying home when feeling sick.