CORONAVIRUS

University of Iowa starts taking names for community vaccination

'We are as eager to give you the vaccination as you are to receive it'

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are seen Dec. 14 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa C
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are seen Dec. 14 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — University of Iowa Health Care on Monday morning officially began collecting names of community members wanting a COVID-19 vaccine — propelling the hospital system into its next vaccination phase after the campus, following state guidance, vaccinated its thousands of hospital and clinic employees.

The campus is keeping back enough vaccine to ensure all its workers receive the two required doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

But UIHC last month received permission from the Iowa Department of Public Health to start administering community doses in February.

Community members, as of Monday, can sign up for the vaccine doses via the MyChart electronic medical record system or through a website portal for those who don’t use MyChart.

“Once you complete the form, please do not call us,” according to instructions on the UIHC COVID vaccine website “When you are eligible, according to the state’s criteria, and we have vaccine doses available, we’ll contact you via MyChart or by phone to schedule your appointment.”

The state’s top priority group — who’ve been getting vaccine since mid-December — includes health care workers and those in long-term care facilities.

Iowa’s vaccination phase 1B, which started Monday, includes people over age 65; first responders; pre-K-12 educators; front-line food and agriculture workers; government officials, like those at the State Capitol; and correctional facility staff.

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Although vaccine is limited, and UIHC hasn’t disclosed how many doses it has for its community vaccination program, the campus has laid out a three-step process for those wanting to sign up.

• First: Let the campus know via MyChart or an online questionnaire that asks for a name, gender, birth date, phone number, email address, residential address, and whether the individual is a UIHC patient.

• Second: Wait for notification from UIHC “that you are eligible to schedule a vaccine appointment (via phone or MyChart).”

• Third: Accept the appointment through a phone or MyChart “to confirm the date, time and location of your vaccination.”

The UIHC website warns the system is not on a first-come, first-serve.

As doses become available, “we will use a random selection process to choose the names from those who are eligible.”

UIHC also is urging those who don’t live in Johnson County to check with their home county’s health department for alternatives.

UIHC officials have warned that because doses are limited, the wait for a vaccine appointment could be long, “even for people who are currently eligible. We are as eager to give you the vaccination as you are to receive it.”

Iowa slow

Iowa, according to an analysis by the Washington Post, has among the lowest vaccination rates in the nation.

For the percent of population that has received a first dose of vaccine, Iowa — at 6 percent — is second from worst among U.S. states — topping only Idaho, which has administered first shots to 5.5 percent of its population.

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Other Midwestern states are nearly as low as Iowa, according to the Washington Post, with Illinois, Kansas and Missouri, reporting just over 6 percent.

By contrast, Alaska has vaccinated 13 percent of its population, and states like Connecticut, West Virginia, New Mexico, and North Dakota have vaccinated between 9 and 11 percent of their residents.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Iowa has received 417,900 doses and administered 252,202 — or 7,994 per 100,000 people. In terms of actual people who have received at least one dose, Iowa is at 190,698 — which ranks it better than 14 states, including Kansas and Nebraska.

UIHC on Monday was reporting 9,185 employees have received at least one dose and 7,144 have received both the first and second doses.

In Johnson County as a whole, 21,714 doses have been administered — with 6,889 people receiving both their first and second shots. Linn County has administered 19,424 total doses, with 4,308 people completing the two shots.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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