Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowa is looking for a partner to help speed up vaccine rollout

In a Thursday press conference, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said they’re currently working on finding a partner to speed up vaccine distribution and simplify the appointment process.


Ben Allan Smith

Kim Reynolds talks at Hy-Vee in Coralville during her 99 Counties tour on Thursday, April 5, 2018.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

Gov. Kim Reynolds said during a Thursday press conference that she’s currently working with Iowa counties and local health departments to address the state’s slow vaccine distribution, as Iowa ranks as one of the slowest states in vaccine distribution per capita. 

“I understand many Iowans are frustrated with the process of making an appointment,” Reynolds said. “I want Iowans to keep in mind that vaccines are limited, and appointments are limited.”

Reynolds said that over 276,000 Iowans have received their first coronavirus vaccine and 70,000 Iowans have received both doses. She said they’re partnering with area agencies on aging to provide assistance and coordinate transportation with seniors who are eligible to receive the vaccine. 

Reynolds also said that she’s taking the first step today to find a partner to create a centralized vaccine registration program, where Iowans can schedule appointments and receive their vaccine location.

In Johnson County, public health officials have said they are trying to avoid a county-wide centralized sign up during the vaccine shortage, because there would not be enough vaccine available for everyone that wanted to sign up. A centralized sign up also could require people to disclose medical information that area hospitals or physicians would already have. County officials also want to avoid long lines or turning people away similar to what has happened in other states.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics vaccinated 1,000 people on Wednesday, randomly selecting 1,000 people 65 years and older in the area for pre-scheduled appointments that expressed interest in receiving the vaccine.

There were reports this week of long wait times for people trying to receive vaccines in Northeast Iowa, where people eligible for vaccines waited outside for hours, and some were still not able to get vaccinated. 

Reynolds said she thinks part of the problem with the state’s slow vaccine distribution is that people are hesitant to schedule appointments because of a lot of uncertainty and lack of information.

“We’re letting our providers know you can count on [vaccine doses] for the next three weeks … the more certainty we can provide them, I think you’ll start to see the percentages go up,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds also announced the release of the final report put together by the governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board on Thursday, eight months after Reynolds put together the 15-person council to create recommendations on how Iowa can begin to economically recover from the pandemic. 

The board is composed of 15 industry leaders in the state. Ben McLean, advisory board chairman and CEO of Ruan Transportation Management Systems, said at the Thursday press conference that expanding broadband, state-funded childcare, boosting K-12 funding, and modernizing health care and manufacturing innovation are among the top recommendations from the council. 

The board sought advice from working groups and over 300 Iowans on what was most needed across the state. 

“Together they tackled some of the hardest issues of our time and sought public input,” Reynolds said Thursday. “It was an ambitious task, but one that really set the foundation of my legislative agenda this year.”

Other board members at the press conference highlighted broadband connectivity as an area that needs major assistance, and Reynolds said she is proposing $150 million over five years to expand broadband statewide. 

Reynolds said that they will convince legislators to approve the funding, and that it’s time to be “bold and aggressive.”