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DHS Officials Continue Efforts To Encourage More Employee COVID-19 Vaccinations At State Facilities

The Glenwood Resource Center is a state-run facility for Iowans with severe disabilities.
Katie Peikes
IPR File
The Glenwood Resource Center is one of DHS's six facilities where nearly 44 percent of employees have declined the COVID-19 vaccine.

DHS officials say they are trying different approaches to encourage more employees to get vaccinated at their six facilities.

The Iowa Department of Human Services officials said they will continue efforts to encourage more employees at the six DHS facilities to get the COVID-19 vaccine, as vaccination rates remain stagnant.

According to state data, 36 percent of employees at DHS’s six facilities declined the COVID-19 shot as of last Friday. That’s the same percent that had declined it five weeks before.

DHS Director Kelly Garcia said at a Council on Human Services meeting Thursday that state officials are trying a variety of approaches to encourage employees to get vaccinated, like addressing their concerns directly at a town hall at Woodward Resource Center two weeks ago.

"You know, what are they worried about? Fertility came up. They were worried about why it makes you ill if you get the second [dose]," she said. "So why do some people have a really strong reaction to the shot? They had some really great questions."

Garcia said the town hall included State Medical Director Caitlin Pedati and AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan. She said the session was videotaped and will be sent out to all six facilities.

"What we're hoping to do is that different people need different types of messaging, and a reason to kind of come on board," Garcia said.

Recent polls have shown between 20 and 25 percent of Americans say they will not get the shot.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter