Pending FDA approval, which is expected, Governor Kim Reynolds today announced Iowa’s first shipment of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine should arrive the week of December 13, with the first shipment of Moderna’s vaccine coming the following week. Altogether, she expects 172,000 Iowans will be able to get vaccinated this month. Hospital staff and nursing home residents and staff will be first to get the first shot. A second dose is required a few weeks later.

Reynolds said vaccine will be distributed to pharmacies that have volunteered to store, transport and administer the vaccine to nursing home residents and staff.

“The federal government has developed a long-term care pharmacy partnership,” Reynolds said. “…This will allow us to quickly and efficiently vaccinate our most vulnerable populations across the state.”

Participating pharmacies have volunteered to provide the staff to administer the shots to nursing home residents and staff according to Iowa Department of Human Services director Kelly Garcia.

“This program ensures vaccine access to the rural parts of our state, as these pharmacies are able to serve any long-term care facility within a 75 mile radius of their locations,” Garcia said.

Garcia, who joined the governor at a news conference today, said vaccines for hospital staff will be positioned at six locations around the state.

“While this is long-awaited good news, I want to underscore that life will not immediately be back to normal,” Garcia said. “Please continue all the necessary mitigation efforts. Please wear a mask. Minimize or eliminate gatherings. We have winter months ahead and need to ensure our health care workers remain able to provide the highest level of care to Iowans.”

Garcia is assembling a panel of experts to decide how to distribute additional shipments of the vaccine over the coming months.

“While life will not immediately return to normal with this, we do have a sense of a light at the end of the tunnel,” Garcia said.

An Infectious Disease Advisory Council will provide clinical guidance on how to distribute the limited supply of vaccines in the coming months.

“The reason for this is to minimize health inequities based on geography, poverty and other social determinants,” Garcia said. “This group will also provide input as additional vaccines become available and will help us with our distribution of therapeutics.”

State officials will publicly announce who may get vaccinated, and when, in the coming months, Garcia told reporters.

“We want Iowans to know when you and your loved ones can expect access to the vaccine,” Garcia said. “However, I want to level set some expectations around information shared. We will not post locations of vaccine positioning or other critical infrastructure detail, to ensure the safe distribution of this limited resource.”

But, again, the first distribution will be to health care professionals and nursing home residents and direct care staff.

“As more Covid-19 vaccine becomes available, additional populations will be added and more people will be able to receive the vaccine,” Garcia said. “We anticipate by mid-2021, there should be enough vaccine for anyone who wants to receive it.”

Reynolds said she’s willing to roll up her sleeve and get vaccinated in public, as an expression of confidence in the safety of the vaccines.

“It will take a little more time before the vaccines are widely available, so in the meantime we can’t let up on our efforts to mitigate the virus,” Reynolds said. “We’re too close now to have to go through another surge, so please continue to do your part to prevent that from happening and protect yourself and others as well.”

AUDIO of vaccine distribution announcement, 26:00

After the first wave of vaccinations this month, state officials say it’s likely the next priority group will be people who live or work in congregate settings like assisted living facilities, prisons and jails.