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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
JOHNSTON - Demonstrating her faith in the newly approved one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds was injected with it Wednesday on live television.
Reynolds, along with her husband, Kevin, and state Public Health Director Kelly Garcia received inoculations partway through a news conference at the Iowa PBS studios.
Reynolds said she waited until now to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to defer to other Iowans in populations more vulnerable to the infection's most severe effects. She said she chose to receive the Johnson & Johnson shot to show Iowans it is as safe and effective as the others. The previously approved vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech require two shots taken three to four weeks apart.
While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was shown in clinical trials to prevent virus deaths and severe symptoms, it has been tested as being less effective in preventing moderate symptoms. But infectious disease and public health experts say that should not dissuade anyone from getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which they say is just as effective as the others at preventing individuals from being hospitalized by COVID-19.
'I wanted to ensure Iowans that I believe it is a safe vaccine and not to be afraid to take it,” Reynolds said after receiving the shot in her left arm. 'I also wanted to make sure that our health care workers were vaccinated. I wanted to make sure that residents and staff in our assisted living (facilities), that they were able to get the vaccine. I wanted to make sure that essential workers, our educators, and other populations were able to get the vaccine.”
To support her point about the new vaccine, Reynolds invited to speak at the news conference Dr. Patricia Winokur, executive dean of the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine and a professor of infectious diseases and internal medicine.
'This is a great vaccine,” Winokur said. 'People have gotten caught up on that 70 percent (efficacy) vs. 90 percent. ... But remember, this vaccine, when you really look carefully at the data, it is exceptionally good at preventing severe disease and hospitalizations.”
Winokur said annual flu vaccines also are roughly 70 percent effective, which she called 'outstanding.”
'But the fact that these vaccines are close to 100 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations is the statistic that people should be watching,” she said.
Reynolds and Garcia said they both felt good roughly 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine.
More than 350,000 people in Iowa have received one dose of the vaccine, and more than 196,000 have received both doses.
Roughly 2.5 million Iowans are 18 years or older, according to U.S. census figures, and thus eligible to receive the vaccine at some point.
Reynolds and state public health officials said Iowa's low rate of residents who have received their second dose has been due in part to slow reporting in the federally-led program in which pharmacies conduct vaccinations.
State officials said thousands of doses were administered but have not yet been reported to the federal government. Once those figures are reported by the pharmacies, Iowa's number and rate of second doses should increase, state officials said.