116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Vaccine availability is set to surge in Iowa in the next few weeks. Now we have to connect all those shots to suitable arms.
More than 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Iowa and around 600,000 Iowans have been fully vaccinated as of this week, according to the state's COVID-19 dashboard.
That is a remarkable figure less than four months after Iowa received its first shipment of vaccines.
However, the early doses may have been the easiest ones by comparison. Many of them have gone to long-term care facility residents and health care professionals at their workplaces, making it relatively simple to find eligible subjects for their first and second doses.
Next week on April 5, vaccine eligibility opens to all Iowans age 16 and older. While vaccine supply is increasing, the opening of eligibility means it likely will remain difficult for jab-seekers to find workable appointments.
Several independent and government resources are available to help Iowans locate vaccine appointments, including:
' The state's vaccinate.iowa.gov website provides information about vaccine availability.
' The 211 hotline is staffed with vaccine navigators to assist in scheduling appointments. It's available by phone at 211 or (800) 244-7431.
' A 'vaccine hunter” website posts available vaccine appointments at brady-software.com/vaccine-hunter.
As we enter this next stage in the coronavirus pandemic, it's important to connect underserved populations to public health resources. Unsurprisingly, racial and ethnic minority groups who are poorly served by the health care system in general are falling through the cracks in the vaccine rollout.
Only about 1 percent of Iowa's vaccine doses so far have gone to Black Iowans, while they make up about 4 percent of the population. Similarly, Hispanic and Latino Iowans have received less than 2 percent of doses, but make up about 6 percent of the population.
While the vaccines hold great promise, we're not there yet. Iowa's COVID-19 positivity rate is creeping back up after showing great progress in recent weeks. It's crucial that unvaccinated Iowans continue to take the same stringent health precautions we've been practicing for months now.
To use a football analogy, we're at the goal line on third down with seconds left on the clock. This is no time to punt.
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