While the number of people getting vaccinated has slowed in Iowa, the number of COVID-19 cases has not. If we continue down this road, we will likely have to take drastic measures to protect people.
We need to have measures in place to mitigate the spread of the virus, as students begin to come back to the University of Iowa campus from all over the country and world. Gov. Kim Reynolds needs to focus on finding ways to incentivize and increase vaccinations in Iowa.
As of July 30, Iowa is sitting at number 29 in the country for total COVID-19 cases per 1 million of the population, and 14 for number of active cases. We can only ignore these numbers for so long before Iowans start experiencing more devastating losses.
Right now, we are facing rises in the death rate because of COVID-19. Additionally, most people who are hospitalized or dying are unvaccinated. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 99 percent of recent COVID-19 deaths were unvaccinated people.
Reynolds has continually proven herself unwilling to make rational decisions during the pandemic. With the inability to require vaccines or even masks it is even harder to progress and move away from large losses due to the pandemic.
Instead of carelessly avoiding the issue, we should be looking at how to incentivize vaccines for Iowans. While a vaccine lottery may not be the answer – since it has proven to be somewhat ineffective – there are other initiatives we should look into.
Education is a major factor in increasing the number of people vaccinated. Data suggests that the newfound fear surrounding the Delta Variant has caused a 14 percent increase in vaccinations.
Another effective way to increase numbers of vaccinations is to incentivize community members to talk to each other about getting vaccinated. Alarmingly, about half of American parents and adolescents are hesitant toward the COVID-19 vaccine, as previously reported by *The Daily Iowan.*
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson started conversations in communities, and the rate of vaccinations in the state increased 40 percent. Similarly, Washington, D.C., has implemented a COVID-19 Ambassador Program, paying people to go door to door and encourage members of their community to get vaccinated.
Clearly, incentivizing people to encourage their peers and community members to get vaccinated through personal anecdotes and conversations is effective. Rather than aimlessly pointing fingers at immigrants, Reynolds should put more effort into protecting Iowans by creating these programs statewide.
It is unfortunate to see so many Iowans have yet to get vaccinated while millions of people across the globe are eagerly waiting their turn. We are at a point where the vaccine is the best safety measure we have to protect against the virus.
In the U.S., we have a significant advantage, as most people have access to the vaccine. Data has shown around 43 percent of people who have had at least one dose of the vaccine are from higher income countries. Further, 37 percent of that were Europeans or North Americans.
Currently, Iowa is sitting at 49 percent of the population being vaccinated. Considering the trends we are seeing in COVID-19 deaths, and cases rising with the Delta variant, this is alarming. When you couple the increased takeover of COVID-19 with the elimination of other measures like mask mandates, we are going down a potentially dark path in Iowa.
Although the vaccines are not the end-all, be-all in moving on from the pandemic, they are the best way we can protect ourselves from having severe symptoms. This is especially important with the Delta variant.
Data shows one in four Americans would not get the COVID-19 vaccine if offered. With this amount of hesitancy, there is the possibility of never being able to reach herd immunity.
We are all eager to get away from the angst the pandemic has brought. If we do not pay attention to where we are now, we will regress even further. We need to start being more intentional about getting Iowans vaccinated.
Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.