116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES - In just a few days, over 1.2 million Iowans who have not already started or finished getting a COVID-19 vaccination will become eligible.
The state and its local partners are ready, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday.
On March 17, the governor announced the state's plan to open starting Monday vaccine eligibility to all Iowans who are old enough - not just to groups that had been declared priorities in the early phases. Wednesday, Reynolds said that plan remains on track and that her administration, county public health departments, medical providers, pharmacies and other entities involved in distributing the vaccines are prepared to handle what surely will be a surge in Iowans wanting to make appointments.
'When I'm out visiting the clinics, every one I've been to so far has said, ‘We can scale this. We've got a system. … We can get people in our communities and surrounding areas taken care of. So if you send us more vaccine, I guarantee you we can get it in the arms of Iowans,'” Reynolds said. 'I'm confident that we can do it. Certainly the will is there, and they've put a lot of work into taking care of the residents in their communities. It's really inspiring.”
The state previously designated the vaccine for populations most at risk of contacting the disease or suffering the worst symptoms. The rollout started with health care workers, then moved in succession to long-term care residents and staff; residents 65 years or older; first responders; teachers and school staff; food processing, agricultural production and manufacturing workers; individuals living at home with disabilities; and finally any residents with underlying health conditions.
On Monday, all other eligible Iowans will be able to get the vaccine.
Reynolds cautioned that demand likely will far exceed the state's supply of vaccine, so securing an appointment could be especially difficult in some areas. But in some counties, vaccinations are running smoothly enough that they already have made doses available to all.
'With increasing vaccine supply and expanded assistance for those who need it, I'm confident that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will have a chance to do so,” Reynolds said. 'I think the future looks pretty good for getting Iowans vaccinated.”
More than 18 percent of the state's population over age 16 has been fully vaccinated, making it the eighth-highest rate in the nation according to a New York Times federal data tracker or the 10th-highest rate according to a similar Washington Post data tracker.
Iowa has the sixth-best rate of doses administered, 85 percent, according to the Times' tracker.
Reynolds and interim state public health Director Kelly Garcia implored Iowans to get vaccinated as soon as they're able. Both noted a recent increase in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Reynolds said her administration is monitoring the small increases, which come on the heels of significant reductions after a deadly winter surge. Reynolds said her administration does not yet see evidence of another significant surge.
Nonetheless, Garcia encouraged Iowans to remain vigilant in helping to limit the virus' spread. She said some of the increase in new cases can be attributed to spring break travel and more contagious variants.
'For all of these reasons, it remains critically important to follow all of the mitigation efforts that we've taken over the past year,” Garcia said, reiterating the key pandemic public health guidelines of staying home when sick and socially distancing in public. 'We now have key tools to stop the spread, and we must use them.”