Capital Clicks

Iowa lawmakers encourage vaccinations as counties decline state allotments

By: - April 22, 2021 2:37 pm

A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C. (Photo by EJ Hersom/U.S. Department of Defense)

One day after Gov. Kim Reynolds urged Iowans to overcome “vaccine hesitancy,” Democratic lawmakers shared details of their own shots and their fully vaccinated summer plans.

Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, told reporters Thursday that she felt “liberation and enthusiasm” after her second vaccine dose, encouraging Iowans to schedule their own appointments. 

“Now is the time to go get vaccinated,” Konfrst said. “That’s the way we get back to normal and we want to make sure that, as leaders, we’re demonstrating how important it is to get those vaccinations.”

Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, said he would receive his second shot early next week.

“I want to applaud people on all sides of the aisle who are encouraging people to get vaccinated,” Prichard said.

Reynolds on Wednesday cited a Kaiser Family Foundation Study that found 50% of adults aged 18 to 39 were taking a “wait and see approach” instead of getting a vaccine immediately. Of those who did not plan to get the vaccine at all, 45% were between 18 and 39. Forty-three counties have declined some or all of their state allotment of vaccines for the next week, Reynolds said.

“If you are opting to ‘wait and see,’ what are you waiting for?” the governor asked. “If you have been a hard ‘no’ from the start, what is your reason? If you can’t answer those questions, we hope you will take the time to reconsider.”

A March Iowa Poll, conducted by the Des Moines Register, found  there was also a partisan split in vaccine hesitancy: 41% of Iowa Republicans said they did not plan to get the vaccine, whereas only 8% of Democrats said they would not take it. Altogether, 27% of Iowans said they did not plan to get the vaccine.

House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, declined to share with reporters Thursday whether he had been vaccinated. In an April 9 episode of “Iowa Press,” on Iowa PBS, Grassley said he had chosen not to be vaccinated yet, although he assumed he would eventually have to do so in order to travel.

“My personal choice … has nothing to do with a political stance or anything like that,” he said. “I think anyone that is eligible, when the eligibility comes, should be in line to do that. I just have chosen not to.”

Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said on a March 26 episode of Iowa Press that, when he was eligible to get the vaccine, he would “probably do so.”

“We want to get back to normal and there’s a couple of ways to get back to normal … Herd immunity and people getting vaccinated,” Whitver said.

Several Republican leaders have received their shots publicly. Reynolds sat for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in an early March press conference and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg will get his shot on Friday in Sioux City. And in a Republican double feature, Iowa GOP chairperson Jeff Kaufmann tweeted on April 10 that U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks gave him his vaccine shot.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.

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