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Reynolds Says Iowa 'On Target' To Open Vaccine Eligibility On April 5; State Overreported Senior Vaccination Rate

Gov. Kim Reynolds says the state remains on target to open vaccine appointments to all eligible Iowans on April 5.
Natalie Krebs
Gov. Kim Reynolds says the state remains on target to open vaccine appointments to all eligible Iowans on April 5.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday that the state is on track to open vaccine appointments to all eligible Iowans starting April 5, but warned demand will outstrip supply.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state is on track to open COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all eligible Iowans on April 5, as White House officials indicated this week the state's weekly allocation will continue to increase.

Reynolds said the state expects to receive more than 128,000 doses of the vaccine next week, including 18,000 single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

She said that’s an increase of about 25,000 doses from the past two weeks' allocation and said White House officials have indicated the state's allocation will continue to go up in April.

Reynolds said this puts the state on track to open up vaccine eligibility, but said when that happens, demand will once again far outstrip supply.

"When this occurs, once again, there is going to be more demand than supply at first, just as we've experienced each time eligibility was expanded," she said.

"So please be patient as our weekly allocations continue to increase, so will the number of appointments available and soon there will be enough vaccine for everyone."

According to state data, more than 511,000 Iowans have been fully vaccinated so far.

Iowans currently eligible for the vaccine include some essential workers such as food processing plant employees and school staff as well as anyone 65 and older and those under 65 with underlying conditions.

Reynolds' confirmation of the state's eligibility expansion means Iowa is among an increasing number of states who have opted to open appointments to all eligible residents well ahead of President Joe Biden's May 1 deadline.

The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are authorized by the FDA for use in anyone 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for use in those 16 and older.

Reynolds said Wednesday that the state estimates 82 percent of Iowans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, a number significantly lower than last week's estimate after state health officials uncovered a data error.

State health officials announced Tuesday that the state's previous estimate of 95 percent, which Reynolds announced at last week's press conference, was incorrect.

In an email, IDPH spokesperson Sarah Ekstrand said upon reviewing its numbers compared to the CDC's figures and questions from the media, the department realized the worksheet that staff used to make the calculation was incorrectly counting those who had received two doses of a vaccine twice.

However, the state's new estimate remains higher than the CDC's estimate of 76 percent.

Reynolds addressed this discrepancy at the press briefing.

"Because the state uses Iowa census data to calculate age specific results, and the CDC uses population estimates, some variability will continue to exist between the reports," she said.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter