Reynolds ‘not aware’ of Iowa’s low ranking in 2-dose vaccine administration

By: - February 25, 2021 1:34 pm

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a Feb. 25, 2021, press conference at Iowa PBS. (Screen shot from Iowa PBS livestream)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday she was not aware Iowa was among the slowest states to have delivered two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to its residents.

Over the past few weeks, Iowa has accelerated the pace at which it is getting vaccines to those who qualify for them, but it has consistently ranked among the states with the lowest percentage of residents who have received both doses of the vaccine.

On Tuesday, Iowa Capital Dispatch reported that Iowa ranked near the bottom of the 50 states, with 4.8% of its population having received two doses of the vaccine. At that time, only Utah, Alabama and Illinois ranked lower, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state-by-state rankings of both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

By Thursday morning, the CDC was reporting that Alabama’s ranking had improved, and only Iowa, Utah and Illinois still had fewer than 5% of their residents reported as receiving both doses of the vaccine.

Reynolds was asked about that at a press conference Thursday.

“I don’t know if that’s accurate,” she said. “I haven’t looked at that … I’m not aware of that. You know, before, when we looked, we were actually up at the top for the allocation of the second dose, so I would have to check on that and have my team get back to you — but that’s not, has not, been the case when I looked before.”

After the press conference, Reynolds’ spokesman, Pat Garrett, said if one looks at the number of Iowans eligible for a vaccine, or at Iowa’s rate of delivering a first dose of the vaccine, Iowa’s ranking among the states is higher.

Reynolds began her press conference by saying the CDC data clearly shows Iowa is making progress in vaccine administration.

“Our administration rate is strong and the number of Iowans vaccinated is impressive,” she said. She cited CDC data that indicates Iowa has administered nearly 622,000 vaccine doses to eligible Iowa adults, and 19.2% of all eligible Iowans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“In just the last seven days, more than 83,000 Iowans have received a vaccine,” she said. “Nearly 64,000 were first doses.”’

Reynolds said the state can now project when Iowans not currently eligible to receive the vaccine will become eligible. Essential workers and disabled individuals living in group-home settings, along with their caregivers, are expected to receive their vaccines beginning in early March, she said. By early April, she said, the next group of vaccine recipients could become eligible.

Reynolds also announced the launch of a new website — vaccinate.iowa.gov — that will become active Friday and will help Iowans navigate the vaccine distribution system. The site will enable Iowans to plug in their location and find links to nearby vaccine providers, she said. It will not be a scheduling or registration tool, however, she said.

Also, Iowans who face barriers to accessing information online will soon be able to call the statewide human-services call center by dialing 2-1-1 and asking for assistance in locating a vaccine provider, she said. That service will begin March 8.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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