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Reynolds Receives COVID-19 Vaccination During Press Conference; Points To Data Error For Low Second Dose Administration Rate

Natalie Krebs
Gov. Kim Reynolds receives her dose of the COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson vaccine along with husband, Kevin, on Mar. 3.

Gov. Kim Reynolds received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on camera during a press conference, saying she wants to prove to Iowans it's safe and effective.

Gov. Kim Reynolds says Iowans should not be discouraged from getting the newly FDA-approved Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of its efficacy rate.

Vaccine trials submitted to the FDA determined the one-dose vaccine has an efficacy rate of 72 percent. That’s lower than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which both have rates over 90 percent.

However, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been found to be extremely effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalizations caused by COVID-19.

During a press conference, Reynolds said "some critics are suggesting" the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is "inferior" because of its efficacy rate.

"This information is misleading. And quite frankly, it's irresponsible to position any vaccine as that, as a less desirable option when it's undergone the same rigorous clinical trials to test its safety and efficacy and has received approval by the FDA and the CDC," Reynolds said, "especially at a time when vaccination is paramount to our recovery."

Natalie Krebs
Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia received her dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine during a press conference on Mar. 3.

Reynolds said that’s why she chose to receive her dose of this vaccine on camera during a press conference Wednesday.

"I wouldn't ask Iowans to do anything that I'm not willing to do. I trust that this vaccine is both safe and effective. And I appreciate the convenience of getting it done with just one dose," she said.

Reynolds said the state will receive 25,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week. They will be shipped to 17 counties that have a significant number of food and manufacturing plant employees.

Reynolds says data error to blame for low second dose rate

Reynolds said a data error is a major reason behind the state’s low administration rate for second COVID-19 vaccine doses.

In recent weeks Iowa has made progress in getting more people vaccinated with 17 percent of Iowans now reported to have received their first dose.

But just six percent of Iowans have received their follow-up second dose, according to CDC data. That's one of the lowest rates in the country.

Reynolds said state health officials have determined one reason for this is because many second-dose vaccinations at the state’s long-term care facilities were done by chain pharmacies and not properly reported.

"We spent a lot of time over the last several days, really researching this so we could get to the bottom of it," she said. "And what we found was the largest percentage, I think it was over 70 percent, was tied to our pharmacy providers."

Reynolds said the state determined that more than 32,000 or about 77 percent of the "overdue" booster shots were linked to pharmacy providers.

Polk County health officials also reported last week that they are experiencing shortages of second Moderna vaccine doses, affecting as many as 14,000 people.

But county officials said Tuesday that Hy-Vee has offered to vaccinate anyone who needs their second Moderna dose, preventing second dose delays that could have run into April.

Reynolds said the data issue is expected to be resolved soon, which will increase the state's rank in second dose administrations.