The Iowa Department of Public Health has announced the federal government will send up to 30% fewer doses of Covid vaccine to Iowa than previously expected.
A statement released by the agency last night indicated it would take some time for state officials to adjust distribution plans. Earlier in the day, acting Iowa Department of Public Health director Kelly Garcia said the state was poised to move quickly once doses of vaccine arrive.
“Now that Iowans are starting to get vaccinated, we’re committed to sharing progress and publicly reporting on our state’s progress,” she said.
The agency will post a running tally of how many Iowans have been vaccinated on the state’s coronavirus tracking website, along with information about the vaccines that are available.
“I have full confidence in the efficacy and safety of the vaccine and believe it is key to turning the tide of the pandemic,” Garcia said during the governor’s Wednesday morning news conference. “…We will also provide regular updates on our progress in Iowa and will work to reach vulnerable populations, including non-English speakers, refugee communities, those we know have historic hesitation around vaccination, and people with disabilities.”
By Tuesday evening, Governor Reynolds said about 500 frontline workers in hospitals and other health care settings had been vaccinated.
“For months we’ve been anxiously awaiting a vaccine, knowing that it would mark the most significant turning point in this pandemic,” Reynolds said. “…But for now we must continue to be patient for a few more months as the vaccine supply increases along with the number of people who will be receiving it.”
The now-scrambled plans had been for up to 154,000 health care workers and 59,000 nursing home residents and staff to get doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines expected to arrive this month. Reynolds said she plans to be vaccinated once access expands to the broader population.
“My decision to wait isn’t based on any hesitancy about the vaccine,” Reynolds said. “Rather during this first phase, I want to make sure that those on the front lines caring for Iowans and long-term care residents who are at risk are vaccinated first. I’m confident that the vaccine is both safe and effective.”
A newly assembled panel of health experts from across the state have held two meetings in the past week to discuss the line-up for vaccinations. Garcia said they’ll meet again next week to discuss the next phase and it’s likely to be people who work in schools, food production, and prisons.
“Again, this next prioritization will be focused on work settings,” Garcia said.
The group is meeting in private. Garcia said that allows participants to speak frankly and fosters a free flow of conversation.
“These decisions cannot be made lightly or easily,” Garcia said.
Open government advocates say the group could build public confidence in the vaccination process by having public rather than private discussions.