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State Announces Its Initial Allocation Of Coronavirus Vaccines Will Be Cut; Feds Disagree

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics received its first shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 14.
The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics received its first shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 14.

The Iowa State Department of Health announced Wednesday evening that the state's initial allotment of coronavirus vaccines could drop by 30 percent, but the federal Department of Health and Human Services put out a statement saying otherwise.

State officials announced Wednesday evening that the federal government has informed them Iowa will not get as much of the vaccine it initially anticipated, but the federal Department of Health and Human Services has contradicted this messaging, saying the report is incorrect.

State health officials said in a press release that the federal government informed them Iowa may see up to a 30 percent reduction in its initial allocation of the coronavirus vaccine.

That could be a reduction in up to 51,600 doses of the vaccine, according to previous estimates given by state officials that Iowa could receive 172,000 doses of the vaccine this month.

But according to a statement from HHS obtained by WHO-13 on Thursday, the federal government said "reports that jurisdictions' allocations are being reduced are incorrect."

On Thursday evening, the state health department sent out a statement further clarifying that the state is now expected to receive approximately 138,300 doses this month, though said this number is still subject to change.

According to other media reports, state officials in Missouri and Illinois have also reported receiving word from the federal government that their vaccine allocations have been reduced.

The state did not a give a reason for the change, but did say it was occurring in other states as well, but did not specify which ones.

Iowa received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday and has already vaccinated more than 500 health care workers, Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a Wednesday press conference.

The state's nursing home residents and staff are scheduled to begin receiving the vaccine on Dec. 28 using a federal partnership program with chain pharmacies.

The state department of health said in its statement Thursday evening that it is still committed to starting the vaccine program for long term care facilities the week of Dec. 28, though its original timeline for completing the program will be impacted.

State officials say they are required to have at least 50 percent of the vaccinations needed for the state’s nursing home residents on hand before they can begin the program.

Brent Willett, the president and CEO of the Iowa Health Care Association, said Thursday he’s cautiously optimistic the program will stay on schedule and has not received any word of a delay.

"We've been in touch with the department. They're working through adjusting their plans right now, but had been told that our program — that the long term care pharmacy program remains their top priority," he said.

Editor's note: This post was updated Friday, Dec. 18 at 10:30 a.m. to reflect an updated statement sent out by IDPH.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter