Iowa’s COVID-19 vaccination rate up 39%, more Iowans now eligible

By: - March 5, 2021 3:52 pm

More than half of the Iowa caregivers who participated in a recent survey say they are opposed to vaccine mandates. (Photo by Parker Michels-Boyce for the Virginia Mercury)

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Iowa has fallen sharply, and the state on Monday will expand the list of Iowans eligible to get vaccinated.

That could help continue the trend.

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Thursday announced that Iowans of any age who have certain chronic conditions would be eligible to get vaccines, beginning Monday. 

In many counties, that will allow a much larger group of people to seek appointments next week. But in larger counties, including Polk, work continues on vaccinating the initial groups, including teachers, first responders, health care workers and nursing home residents and staff, for example. 

The Polk County Health Department on Friday afternoon announced it will not offer vaccines to the expanded group until at least 70% of those in the initially approved categories receive at least one injection. Progress will be reviewed weekly, county officials said in a news release. 

“Our primary goal is to get as many people vaccinated in our community as possible but we also recognize the stress and frustration that people experience when the competition is high for a limited supply,” Polk County Supervisor Angela Connolly said in a statement. “The last thing that we want to do is make it even more difficult for the current tier to access the vaccine.”

In Polk County, senior citizens who need help arranging a vaccination should call (515) 323-5221. First responders, PK-12 staff, early childhood education, child care workers, health care workers and long term care staff and residents should visit

Demand for the vaccines continues to far outstrip supply, health officials said. However, in the past week, Iowa has administered an average of 20,300 doses a day, up 39% from the week before, the Washington Post reported.

However, with under 6.4% of Iowans fully vaccinated, the state still ranks lower than all states but Utah, the Post reported. 

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which requires one dose, is now on the market and could help speed vaccinations. Vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer require two doses several weeks apart.

Iowa’s new COVID-19 cases per week fell 17% over the past 14 days, the New York Times reported. Hospitalizations fell 20% and deaths by 22% in the same period. 

There are 11 current outbreaks at nursing homes, involving 172 cases, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported. 

On Thursday, Iowa recorded 579 new cases, a fraction of the level a few months ago. There were 35 deaths on Thursday, the Times reported. 

Since the pandemic began, Iowa has confirmed 366,154 cases and 5,549 deaths related to COVID-19.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.