Iowa lags behind 47 other states in administering vaccines

State officials have told nursing homes to reopen to most visitors. (Photo by Getty Images)

Iowa continues to rank among the states with the slowest COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The latest data from both the New York Times and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates Iowa has delivered at least one dose of the vaccine to just 6.5% of its population. Among the 50 states, only Missouri and Idaho, both at 6.3%, have a lower rate of delivery.

Iowa’s low ranking is all the more striking because it has one of the nation’s oldest populations, and throughout the nation the vaccine is being delivered to the elderly first after health care workers.

Iowa fares better when measured against other states for the delivery of two shots of the vaccine. At least 29 other states are behind Iowa, which has given two shots of the vaccine to 2.2% of its population.

While Gov. Kim Reynolds has expressed frustration with the amount of vaccine delivered to Iowa, the data indicates Iowa has administered only 59% of the vaccine doses it has received. As of Friday, Iowa had received 471,200 vaccine doses, but administered only 279,252 of them. That’s slightly below the national average of 61%.

At a press conference Thursday, Reynolds said, “I understand how disappointing it is when you’re finally eligible to get the vaccine, and you can’t get through to schedule an appointment. I’m asking Iowans to please keep in mind that, while vaccine supply is limited, appointments will also be limited.”

Nationally, about 27.9 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Included within that number are 6.9 million people who have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

The CDC estimates that at the current rate, it will likely be months before the population presently approved for the vaccine — generally, people over 65, as well as health care workers, first-responders, teachers and meatpacking workers — is fully vaccinated.

On Friday, Iowa reported 58 new coronavirus deaths and 908 new infections. Over the past week, the state has averaged 870 new cases of coronavirus each day, a decrease of 23 percent from the average two weeks ago.

During the past week,  the number of virus-related deaths reported each day in Iowa has risen by 400%.  It’s unclear how much of that increase is due to recurring changes in the way the state calculates and publicly reports information on deaths.

While virus-related hospitalizations continue to fall in Iowa — they’re down 9.1% over the past week — the state’s positivity rate remains high at 24%. That means almost one out of four Iowans tested are positive for the virus.

Currently, there are 43 active outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes, with 1,331 infections associated with those outbreaks. To date, 2,080 Iowa nursing home residents have died of the virus; the state has refused to disclose the number of nursing home workers who have died of the virus.

Overall, there have been at least 323,216 cases of the virus in Iowa since the beginning of the pandemic, along with 5,033 deaths, according to the New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker.