Gov. Reynolds says Iowa COVID-19 vaccine demand not meeting supply

Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a Wednesday press conference that the state is having to reallocate vaccines to more populous parts of Iowa.

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More than 40 counties across Iowa have declined some or all of the vaccine shipments allocated to the county on account of vaccine hesitancy increasing across the state, Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a press conference Wednesday.

While 37 percent of Iowans are fully vaccinated and 53 percent have received one dose, the demand for vaccines in the state is not matching Iowa’s supply, she said. The vaccine shipments that were denied by 43 counties were reallocated to more populous areas in Iowa, Reynolds said.

According to the NPR COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, Iowa currently ranks 15th in the nation for total number of people vaccinated, up from being near the bottom in February and March. 

Reynolds said they’re seeing the most hesitancy among people ages 18 to 39, and her administration is working with the student health departments at Iowa’s three state Board of Regents-governed universities to set up vaccine clinics to get students vaccinated before they return home for the summer.

The UI is holding a student vaccine clinic today and Thursday in the IMU after canceling appointments with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Iowa’s three public universities were receiving doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before the vaccine was paused because of an extremely rare blood clot side effect, but Reynolds said universities are now receiving shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to continue with their vaccine clinics. The regents won’t require vaccinations for students. 

Erin Baldwin, associate vice president of Student Health & Wellness at Iowa State University, said ISU currently has enough supply to administer several thousand vaccine doses a week and hundreds of volunteers helping at vaccine sites across campus.

The University of Iowa was among some of the first universities to receive vaccine shipments from the state, and since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused, the UI has continued vaccinating students with the Pfizer vaccine.

Joining Reynolds at the press conference was Iowa National Guard General Benjamin Corell to talk about his personal experience battling COVID-19, and why he chose to get vaccinated.

Corell was hospitalized with COVID-19 and is still experiencing some long-haul symptoms, like shortness of breath and fatigue, and implored Iowans to make a vaccine appointment, even if they think they’re less susceptible to COVID-19 on account of their age or physical health.

Studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccine can significantly decrease the chances of someone being hospitalized with COVID-19, helping to alleviate stress off of hospitals and intensive-care units. While younger people are less likely to experience severe symptoms, Corell said he never needed to be hospitalized at any point in his life before he contracted COVID-19.

“For all of you who have been vaccinated, thank you for being a part of the solution to defeat this plague,” Corell said. “For those of you who have not yet been vaccinated, I implore you to take the time to get it scheduled and vaccinated. For those of you sitting on the fence, wondering if you should get vaccinated, do it.”

Reynolds said that any Iowan can now call a 211 hotline to get in touch with a vaccine navigator who can help set up an appointment. This service was previously only available to Iowans over the age of 65 who didn’t have access to internet or technology to find their own appointment. 

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