Despite free ice cream, Iowa struggles to get half of residents fully vaccinated

By: - June 18, 2021 3:45 pm

Incentives for COVID-19 vaccination include free ice cream and local lottery drawings. (Creative Commons photo via Pxhere)

Iowa is struggling to get half its population vaccinated for COVID-19, despite local incentives such as a lottery and free ice cream.

As of Friday, 46% of Iowans had been fully vaccinated, and 51% had received at least one dose, the New York Times reported. Both are up a bit more than 1 percentage point since June 7, and the gain the week before that was less than a point.

A month and a half ago, the Times reported that 35% of Iowans were fully vaccinated and 44% of Iowans had received at least one dose.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, now says as much as 90% of the nation’s population will need to have immunity, either through vaccine or because of previous infections, before “herd immunity” will be achieved. That has become more important now that variants of the original virus are spreading.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has approved the vaccines for anyone age 12 or older. But for months, the focus was on adults, especially seniors, who are at more risk.

The numbers are better in that group. As of Friday, the Times reported, 85% of Iowans ages 65 or higher were fully vaccinated, and 88% had at least one dose. 

In the 18 and up category, 58% were fully vaccinated and 63% had at least one dose. 

Among the efforts to improve on the numbers are a lottery for the vaccinated in Polk County, where ice cream was served at a vaccination site this week, too. The Beaverdale neighborhood in Des Moines is offering special offers and discounts at some businesses for those who got vaccinated at a participating neighborhood pharmacy. 

Some eastern Iowa businesses have offered their employees bonuses for getting vaccinated, KWWL reported

Gov. Kim Reynolds declined to offer a lottery or other statewide incentives. She has worked with state officials to get mobile vaccination units to baseball games and public events, however, and has encouraged Iowans to get vaccinated.  

The Times reported Iowa’s daily average of new COVID-19 cases fell 8% over the past two weeks, to 82. 

According to the Washington Post, only 17 states have a lower per- capita case count than Iowa.

Since the pandemic began, Iowa has recorded 403,642 cases and 6,109 related deaths, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported Friday.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Senior reporter 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.