Johnson County to surpass national July 4 COVID-19 vaccination goal

Johnson County’s COVID-19 vaccination rate for residents aged 12 and over is at 69.9 percent, as reported on June 30.


Grace Smith

A sign is seen outside the Iowa Memorial Union for the vaccine clinic at the University of Iowa on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

Sabine Martin, News Editor

Johnson County is already surpassing the national COVID-19 vaccination goal set by President Joe Biden in May for 70 percent of adults in the United States to have at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by July 4.

As of Wednesday, Johnson County’s COVID-19 vaccination rate for residents 12 years old and over is at 69.9 percent, Susan Vileta, the Johnson County Public Health health educator said.

“We’re urging everybody to, before the fourth, to get out there and not just so that we can meet those national goals,” Vileta said. “We’re proud that folks were clamoring to get it right away and the folks who had questions got them answered.”

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 45.5 percent of Iowans are fully vaccinated. In the United States, 154.9 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vileta added that 79.8 percent of those 26 years old and over and 58.6 percent of those ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated in Johnson County.

Johnson County Community Health Manager Sam Jarvis said the Iowa Department of Public Health did not implement a coordinated effort to set a percentage of vaccinated Iowans by the state for every county to meet.

Locally, Jarvis said Johnson County Public Health’s partnership with Project Better Together and the Iowa City Downtown District announced a goal for the community to be 80 percent vaccinated by this fall, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan.

“It is a very lofty aspiration, and we do hope to get there someday,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis said Johnson County has experienced some days where there are no new COVID-19 cases reported.

“We know that vaccinations continue to increase,” Jarvis said. “At this point, it’s kind of at a slow creep with small percentages throughout the past several weeks.”

Iowa Department of Public Health Public Information Officer Sarah Ekstrand wrote in an email to the DI that the Iowa Department of Public Health is continuing to work with local partners to understand what questions Iowans have about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“IDPH recently requested that testing labs submit all remaining samples from positive COVID tests to the State Hygienic Lab to be sequenced,” Ekstrand wrote. “By sequencing positive samples, a clear picture of all variants statewide can be established.”

Jennifer Miller, a Johnson County Public Health disease prevention specialist, said the county’s contact tracing team is now available to have conversations during COVID-19 case investigations when they’re reaching out for contact tracing.

Miller said Johnson County Public Health provided the contact tracing team with training on how to have conversations about vaccination hesitancy.

“Every time you would call somebody for case investigation or as a contact, one of the questions we always have asked, since vaccinations became available, is ‘Are you vaccinated?’ because that can influence our guidance,” Miller said.

Miller said most COVID-19 cases right now are from people who aren’t COVID-19 vaccinated. She said the contact tracing team has been successful while talking to county residents about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There are what we call vaccine breakthrough cases, and that’s not unexpected, which means people who have been fully vaccinated,” Miller said.

Vileta said residents in Johnson County are getting vaccinated because they trust public health and the medical community.

“I think we’re fortunate that we have a few medical communities in this county,” Vileta said. “With the University of Iowa being a research institution and having the reputation that they do around the country, we have a lot of experts to rely on.”