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Listening With Respect: Understanding Vaccine Hesitancy

Mat Napo
"State health officials have confirmed 80 of Iowa’s 99 counties declined all or part of their weekly COVID-19 vaccine allocation for next week, as demand for COVID-19 vaccinations continues to decline," writes IPR's healthcare reporter Natalie Krebs. "The new figures marks a rapid increase from previous weeks. On April 15, 43 counties declined their full allocation, and on April 8, when 21 counties declined part of all of their allocation."

According to the latest numbers, 33 percent of Iowans are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. That means they’ve received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine.

Forty-four percent of Iowans have received at least one dose. That puts Iowa squarely in the middle of the pack as far as state vaccination rates go. Now comes the hard part.

There are encouraging signs that the United States, through vaccination, is winning the race against the virus. This fourth surge is starting to show signs of abating and the prospects for case numbers dropping during the summer months, at least in the northern states. is very good. But to prevent a new surge in the fall and to stay ahead of new variants of the virus, we need to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

That means calming the fears of those who are nervous, encouraging the reluctant, delivering vaccine to those who can’t get to a clinic or pharmacy and, perhaps most importantly, convincing at least some of those who are adamantly opposed to getting this vaccine.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe discusses the history of vaccine hesitancy and what makes the hesitancy we’re seeing right now unique and explores some of the techniques that just might make a difference.

Below is a list of resources that were mentioned during this discussion.

Iowa COVID-19 Info

Wayne County Public Health

United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties panel discussion: Why Should I Get a COVID Vaccine?

Vaccinate Iowa

Vaccine Hunter

Iowa Vaccine Alerts

COVID-19 vaccines available at all Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations with no appointment necessary


  • Sue Lederer, Robert Turell Professor of the History of Medicine and Bioethics at the school of medicine and public health, University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • Dr. Rick Dobyns, family medicine physician, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
  • Shelley Bickel, Wayne County public health administrator
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River