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Reynolds Says COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility May Expand To All Adult Iowans On April 5

Natalie Krebs
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that all Iowans may be eligible for the vaccine on April 5 as long as the federal government increases supply as anticipated.

Gov. Kim Reynolds says an anticipated increase in vaccine supply from the federal government means eligibility could open in early April.

Editor's Note: This post was updated on Mar. 24 to reflect that state health officials say they miscalculated the percentage of Iowans 65 and older who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Gov. Kim Reynolds reported on Mar. 17 that group included more than 95 percent of people 65 and older. Officials have clarified that as of Monday, that number is actually 82 percent.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced all Iowans may be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5th.

At a press conference Wednesday, Reynolds said she anticipates eligibility will expand as long as the state’s vaccine allocation increases as much as the federal government anticipates.

She says White House officials told her this week that they expect to significantly ramp up doses starting the week of March 29. This could double the state’s current weekly supply.

"Now that our national vaccine supply is projected to significantly increase in the next two weeks, and Iowans have demonstrated our ability to work together and ensure vaccine is administered efficiently and responsibly, I'm confident that we're prepared to open up even more," she said.

Reynolds said the federal government is projecting potentially 20 million doses to go out nationwide the week of March 29 with weekly allocations exceeding 22 million expected to begin in April.

Reynolds said the state gets allocated about 1 percent of the nation's supply, meaning Iowa could receive as many as 200,000 doses per week by the end of this month.

She said the state is anticipating about 86,000 doses this week.

"We're starting to see all of them ramp up, as well as [Johnson & Johnson], which again, the single dose that really is a game changer, and we can really allocate and get that out to some of our mass vaccination clinics where they can turn that around wrap pretty quickly," Reynolds said.

Around 2.1 million Iowans are 18 or older, according to census data, meaning they're eligible for any of the three approved COVID-19 vaccines. That doesn't include Iowans ages 16 and 17, who are also eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

State officials said Wednesday more than 31 percent of Iowans 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

They initially also reported more than 95 percent of Iowans 65 and older have received at least one dose, but clarified on Mar. 23 that due to a calculation error that number is actually 82 percent.

Reynolds said she has another phone call scheduled with White House officials next Tuesday and will provide an update to her plan at next week's press conference.

Reynolds' announcement came as the number of Iowa's long-term care facilities reporting an active COVID-19 outbreak have dropped to just one.

Long term care facilities have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but state officials said due to the COVID-19 vaccine, outbreaks have been nearly eliminated.

As of Wednesday, just one facility in Wapello County is listed as currently experiencing an outbreak.

Reynolds said no additional positive cases have been reported there since Feb. 17.

"We anticipate that just days from now, not a single long term care facility will be in outbreak status, something that hasn't occurred since the first outbreaks were reported in early April of last year," she said.

Reynolds says the federal pharmacy partnership program, which is responsible for vaccinating the staff and residents of the facilities, will finishing vaccinating all facilities by the end of this month.

About three months ago, long-term facilities reporting outbreaks hit a record high of 169 on Dec. 3.

More than 2,200 residents of long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the state.