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Polk County To Expand COVID-19 Vaccine Age Eligibility To Those Under 65 With Underlying Conditions

A staff member displays a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Cardiff, Wales on Tuesday.
Justin Tallis
/
Getty Images
The number of vaccination appointments will vary depending on the county's vaccine allocation next week.

The state's largest county said some appointments for those under 65 with underlying conditions will be available at county hospitals and select Medicap pharmacies starting Monday.

Polk County health officials say they will open COVID-19 vaccine appointments to those under 65 with underlying conditions starting next Monday.

According to a press release on Thursday, appointments will be available at county hospitals and clinics along with select Medicap pharmacies. The number of appointments will vary depending on the county's vaccine allocation next week.

State health officials expanded Iowa’s vaccine age eligibility requirements on Monday, saying the move was necessary for some counties who were struggling to fill appointments with people 65 and older.

However, Polk county officials announced earlier this week they would not be expanding age eligibility until at least 70 percent of residents ages 65 and older have at least one vaccine dose, saying the move could cause more stress for residents as demand still far outstrips supply.

In a statement released Thursday, Polk County Public Health Department Director Helen Eddy said the health department made the decision to expand age eligibility because its Pfizer vaccine allocation has increased in the past two weeks.

“We’ve had additional conversations with our pharmacy partners, hospitals and clinics and we feel confident and ready to start opening vaccinations in Polk County to 64 years and under with underlying health conditions," Eddy said.

County officials said they’ll also start vaccinating those in Phase 1B, Tier Two starting Monday, March 22. This includes farmworkers, employees of manufacturing and food processing plants and those with disabilities in home settings and their caregivers.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter