116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Local vaccine distribution efforts will not change significantly as a result of the governor's decision to open vaccine eligibility to every Iowan starting next month.
Dose allocations to individual counties are expected to increase in the coming weeks and local public health officials are encouraging residents to get the vaccine as soon as they are able. As officials raise concerns about a new COVID-19 variant is circulating within the state, they say it's critical to reach herd immunity levels to protect the community against the novel coronavirus.
'It is critical for Iowans to get the vaccine when one is made available to them,” said Heather Meador, clinical branch supervisor at Linn County Public Health.
'Reaching herd immunity will be important in slowing down virus transmission.”
Linn County's weekly allocation will increase next week to a total 4,810 doses, Meador told reporters during a media briefing Thursday. The public health department has not received word how many more doses they can expect from state officials in the coming weeks.
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that every Iowan will qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of their age or health status, beginning April 5. Moderna and Johnson and Johnson's vaccines are authorized for individuals aged 18 and up, while Pfizer-BioNTech's shot is approved for anyone aged 16 and older.
The majority of the state's population already qualifies for the shot under the current eligibility, which includes seniors aged 65 and older as well as those with underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
About 180,000 individuals in Linn County are aged 18 and older, about 78.7 percent of the total population.
Because of the increase in the number of people seeking the vaccine, Meador warned not everyone who wants an appointment may get one right away.
The county's distribution plans to local vaccine providers will not change on April 5. But Meador couldn't say whether those health care providers, pharmacies or other partners offering shots will change their strategies in light of the governor's announcement.
Vaccine providers have made progress in Linn County, Meador said. Of the 36,000 Linn County residents aged 65 and older, about 73 percent have started or completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.
In addition, about 30 percent of all adults have started or completed the vaccine series, Meador added.
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 447,000 individuals across the state have completed the COVID-19 vaccine series and additional 318,000 have received the first shot in the two-dose vaccine series, according to the state's coronavirus website.
In her announcement, Reynolds encouraged everyone to get vaccinated, saying widespread immunity is key to businesses reopening and other in-person events resuming.
'We want life to get back to normal,” Reynolds said during a Wednesday news conference.
Meador echoed the governor's comments on Thursday, adding public health officials 'don't want people to feel guilty about getting vaccinated when they're eligible.”
'Reaching herd immunity not only protects yourself, but it protects the community,” Meador said. 'So if you are eligible for vaccine, please go ahead and get one.”
Linn County residents should not wait to try to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which is only a one-dose vaccine series. Meador said Linn County Public Health intends to save those doses for the county's more vulnerable populations, such as those who are homeless or otherwise face barriers to accessing vaccine providers.
This week marks one year since the first lab confirmed COVID-19 case in Linn County, an anniversary that may cause some feelings of grief or loss. Those emotions are normal, Meador said, and it's important residents assess their needs and seek help if they need it.
As the county reflects on the past year, it's also important to know there's a reason to hope.
'Safe and effective vaccines that will help end the pandemic and save lives are being administered as quickly as the supply allows,” Meador said.
'The many sacrifices we have made - although difficult - have made a difference.”
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