Expanded vaccine eligibility for all adult Iowans still on track for April 5

More than 600,000 Iowans have now been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. (Photo by Parker Michels-Boyce/ For the Virginia Mercury)

Iowa is moving ahead with plans to expand COVID-19 vaccine availability to all Iowans age 16 or older beginning April 5.

Currently, Iowans 65 or older are eligible for the vaccine, as are Iowans age to 16 to 64 who have health conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma or obesity. Some Iowa counties have already expanded eligibility to include all Iowans 16 or older, but on April 5 that expansion is expected to be statewide.

At her weekly press conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday that Iowa’s vaccine supply will increase significantly next week, as was hoped. The state expects to receive 161,000 initial doses, including 45,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that requires only one shot.

“While demand increases over the next few weeks, getting an appointment may be challenging in some areas,” Reynolds said.

The governor said state officials are monitoring recent increases in positive testing and new cases of the virus, adding that “we’ve not seen evidence to suggest it’s leading down a concerning path.”

Iowa now has one of the highest test positivity rates in the nation. The Washington Post has reported that Iowa’s new cases are up 33.7%, and the New York Times has reported Iowa has 22% more new cases than it did two weeks ago. 

According to the Post’s database, Iowa ranked 22nd among the states in the highest seven-day rolling average of COVID cases per capita. Iowa’s 34% jump in cases was far higher than the national increase of 9%.

Reynolds said  “a small allocation” of vaccines will be provided next week to select Iowa colleges and universities for student vaccinations. That will be followed by larger allocations of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for students.