Capital Clicks

Lawmakers host their own COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Capitol

By: - March 23, 2021 3:36 pm

State Rep. John Forbes, an Urbandale pharmacist, prepares for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for lawmakers at staff March 23, 2021, in the State Capitol cafeteria. (Photo by Jim Obradovich for Iowa Capital Dispatch)

About 25 Iowa legislators and staff received a shot in the arm at the Iowa Capitol Tuesday during a COVID-19 clinic organized by two state representatives.

State Rep. Ann Meyer, a registered nurse from Fort Dodge, sets up a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for lawmakers and staff in the State Capitol cafeteria on March 21, 2021. (Photo by Jim Obradovich for Iowa Capital Dispatch)

It was a bipartisan effort: Rep. John Forbes, an Urbandale pharmacist, is a Democrat, and Rep. Ann Meyer, a registered nurse from Fort Dodge, is a Republican. Two Drake University pharmacy students assisted with the one-hour clinic, Forbes said.

He said a number of lawmakers had been asking him about the vaccine and many are now eligible either because of their age or a pre-existing condition. He said they may do another clinic at the Capitol, but he believes the majority of lawmakers who are eligible under current state guidelines have now either had the vaccine or have decided not to get one.

Forbes did not estimate how many lawmakers are refusing the vaccine, but said it is a concern “because there are some members down here that don’t wear masks.”

The Legislature does not require lawmakers or members of the public to wear face coverings in the Capitol.

Forbes said lawmakers were “very happy to be able to get it here at the Capitol and not have to worry about … having to drive home to get it.” Some lawmakers were driving two hours for vaccine appointments back home, he said.

The doses delivered Tuesday to eligible lawmakers and staff were Pfizer vaccines, which require a second dose. Forbes said all those who received first doses were scheduled for their second shots.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said last week she expects all Iowa adults would be eligible for the vaccine by April 5. Forbes said that may be optimistic because vaccine supplies are still limited and so is the capacity to deliver them through pharmacies and doctor’s offices.

“So I would hope that they’ll set up mass vaccination clinics you will need to vaccinate 500 to 1,000 people in a day. Get the people vaccinated in a timely manner so we can reduce the risk of the spread of the virus,” Forbes said.

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Kathie Obradovich
Kathie Obradovich

Editor Kathie Obradovich has been covering Iowa government and politics for more than 30 years, most recently as political columnist and opinion editor for the Des Moines Register. She previously covered the Iowa Statehouse for 10 years for newspapers in Davenport, Waterloo, Sioux City, Mason City and Muscatine.