CORONAVIRUS

Iowa teachers, police would be next in line for vaccine under state distribution plan

Food packing workers, child care workers also amont second tier

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceuti
An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, on November 17, 2020. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

DES MOINES — Emergency and law enforcement personnel, food packing workers, teachers and school staff and child care workers are among those who would be next in line to become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Iowa after health care workers and staff and residents at long-term care facilities are given the first batch, according to the state’s plan.

Iowans who live in assisted living facilities and adults with medical conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19 also are in the second batch of Iowans who will be eligible for the vaccine, according to the 70-page state planning document.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Kelly Garcia, who directs the state agencies on health care and public health, announced last week that Iowa expects to receive 172,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in December from Pfizer and Moderna, with the first batches tentatively expected next week.

Reynolds and Garcia said that, in keeping with federal guidelines, the first doses of the vaccine will go to Iowans who work in health care and both staff and residents at long-term care facilities like nursing homes.

The state’s “COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy” expands on who would become eligible next. The list includes Iowans living in a residential care facility, assisted living program, elder group home or independent living facility.

The plan lists these population segments in one batch, and does not detail in which order each would become eligible to get the vaccine.

The next phase also would include Iowans “who play a key role in keeping essential functions of society running and cannot socially distance in the workplace.” The state plan lists as examples:

• Emergency and law enforcement personnel;

• Food packaging and distribution workers;

• Teachers and school staff;

• Child care providers.

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The group also includes Iowans with high-risk medical conditions including cancer, chronic kidney disease, serious heart conditions, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and others.

The state’s plan for the second phase of vaccine distribution — when a large number of doses is available to the public — includes planning with local partners to provide the vaccine at locations like health care clinics, pharmacies, drive-through sites and community-based locations like schools, community centers, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, free clinics and nonprofit agencies.

During the second phase, some pharmacies also will be eligible to work directly with the federal government.

Reynolds and Garcia last week cautioned that plans are fluid because they depend on timely federal approval and delivery of the vaccines.

“Early in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, there may be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine,” the state plan says. “Vaccination efforts will focus on those critical to the response; including those who provide direct care, and maintain critical infrastructure, as well as those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.”

The state plan adds later, “Given COVID-19 vaccine supply will increase incrementally as vaccines are produced during the pandemic, targeted decisions must be made in the initial allocations provided to this state. Such decisions will be based on vaccine supply, pandemic severity and impact in different parts of the state, potential for disruption of community critical infrastructure, and operational considerations, such as storage capabilities.”

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