Iowa report details ‘critical populations’ who may be next in line for COVID-19 vaccine

By: - December 4, 2020 5:56 pm

Some Iowa counties with low vaccination rates are seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

While the first round of COVID-19 vaccines will go to health care workers and those in longterm-care facilities, a new report from the Iowa Department of Public Health outlines other “critical populations” who also should be considered for vaccinations prior to the general public.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced this week that Iowa will receive enough vaccinations for 172,000 individuals this month, starting Dec. 13. They will be initially distributed to health care facilities and then vaccine reserves will go to long-term care facilities through a federal pharmacy partnership program.

In a detailed report released by IDPH on Friday, other vulnerable populations were identified who could potentially receive vaccinations.

The report identified workers in “essential” jobs that expose them to the public but are needed to keep society running. These include meatpacking plant workers, teachers, school staff and child care providers.

Beyond workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease were also identified, as well as Iowans 65 years or older. Those living in an assisted living program may also be eligible for the second phase of vaccines.

IDPH is currently analyzing other essential workers who are needed to continue operations, including the number of legislative staff and workers in the governor’s office, “to ensure the continuity of government,” according to the report.

University of Iowa health officials said the 95% efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are “better than we anticipated.” Following tens of thousands of human trials, both companies are awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The U.K. and Russia recently approved COVID-19 vaccines for public distribution.

Reynolds urged Iowans to continue wearing masks and practice social distancing until vaccines are mass distributed next year.

“It will take a little more time until the vaccines are widely available,” the governor said on Thursday. “We’re too close now to have to go through another surge.”

Other risk factors considered for second phase of COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (Body Mass Index of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or
  • cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

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