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Reynolds: Vaccine Eligibility To Expand In Early March, Iowa Launching Vaccine Locator

Kim Reynolds
Charlie Neibergall
/
AP
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that essential workers and people with disabilities will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in early March.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday that essential workers and people with disabilities will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in early March.

She said 70 percent of Iowans currently eligible for a vaccine are projected to have received at least one dose by mid-March.

Next in line are essential workers in areas including food processing, agricultural production, distribution and manufacturing, as well as Iowans with disabilities and the staff caring for them. Seventy percent of that group is projected to get at least one dose of vaccine by early April.

“But I want to reiterate that projections are just estimates, and these are intended to provide Iowans with a sense of how long it will take to vaccinate each population and when vaccine could open up further,” Reynolds said. “They’re not hard dates, and some areas of the state will be able to transition to their next eligible population more quickly than others.”

The federal government is increasing its vaccine shipments to states, Reynolds says the state has confirmed it will receive its first shipment of the new, single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week. But demand for vaccines is still far greater than the supply, and there are still concerns that some elderly and vulnerable Iowans will be left behind.

According to CDC data, the state of Iowa has improved its rate of distribution of first doses, but still lags most states in its distribution of second doses.

Reynolds also announced the state will launch a vaccine locator website on Friday.

Vaccinate.iowa.gov will allow people to enter their location and find vaccine providers nearby, but they will still have to sign up directly with the pharmacy or health care provider they find.

The announcement of the new website comes a week after Reynolds said she canceled a contract with Microsoft to develop a centralized vaccine sign-up system.

Reynolds also said that starting the week of March 8, Iowans age 65 and over who are struggling to get vaccinated can call 211 to have a vaccine navigator schedule an appointment for them at a nearby Hy-Vee pharmacy.

“It’s important that Iowans understand that this service is only for adults aged 65 and older who are truly in need of scheduling support,” Reynolds said.

In the meantime, vaccine navigators will start contacting some seniors who previously reached out to the Area Agencies on Aging to schedule them for a vaccine.

Reynolds said these navigators will ask for the person’s name, birth date, and county of residence. The navigators will not ask for a Social Security number or insurance information. Seniors who get an appointment scheduled this way will have to provide insurance information when they go to their appointment.

The new resources for finding vaccine appointments come more than two months after the state started distributing vaccines.