Reynolds opening COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to seniors

by Travis Fischer

As the first wave of COVID-19 vaccine rolls out across the state, Governor Kim Reynolds is expanding eligibility, moving forward to get the vaccine out to Iowans as quickly as possible.

“As soon as our weekly vaccine allocation is received it’s going out the door and into the arms of Iowans across the state,” said Reynolds on Thursday, Jan. 21.

The state has received more than 160,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since distribution began and is currently continuing to receive 19,500 doses per week from the federal government, not counting the doses allocated to pharmacy companies to vaccinate staff and residents of the state’s long term care facilities.

The first priority group for the state’s allotment of vaccine has been frontline healthcare workers and after administering more than 100,000 doses since distribution began.

Inoculating the staff and residents of long term care facilities has gone a little slower, but they too are on pace to soon complete first dose distribution.

“We’ve been assured by the providers that the first doses will be completed statewide by the end of the month,” said Reynolds.

With the first priority groups largely accounted for, the state is now looking to open eligibility to the next level of priority populations.

Specifically, beginning Feb. 1, Iowans age 65 and older will become eligible for vaccination. Shortly after, the state will open up eligibility to their Tier 1 population, which includes teachers and first responders.

However, eligibility does not necessarily mean availability and it is unclear when any particular person in these populations might be able to receive the vaccine.

“We need to emphasize that demand for the vaccine will vastly exceed our supply,” said Reynolds.

In total, as of Jan. 22, 167,961 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Iowa residents, with 26,463 vaccine series completed. The state will be introducing a vaccine tracking page to some time soon to document how vaccine distribution is going across the state.

As of Sunday, Jan. 24, there have been 313,139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 305,150 total from the week prior by 7,989. This marks a continuing trend of declining virus activity after a spike following the New Year.

“Not surprisingly, we experienced an increase in positive cases following Christmas and New Year’s gatherings,” said Reynolds. “But they were minor in comparison with other parts of the nation and far

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