Iowa Expected To Open Vaccine For All Adults Beginning on April 5th

All Iowa adults could be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 5 as long as the federal supply continues to increase as projected, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday.

She expects to know for sure next week. Current national projections show between 20 million and 29 million doses of vaccine, including some of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will be distributed weekly starting in April. Iowa could expect about 200,000 to 290,000 doses out of that supply, enough for about 10% to 15% of the state’s adult population.

“(The vaccine supply) is continually ramping up,” she said. “The first of April, the numbers look really good.”

Federal officials have approved the shots for use in Americans 16 or over. Younger children could be eligible as soon as next fall, experts have said.

The expanded criteria would mark the final stage of adult eligibility for the vaccinations. The state opened vaccine eligibility March 8 to Iowans ages 16-64 with preexisting conditions that put them at heightened risk. Officials noted the expansion did not necessarily mean eligible Iowans could obtain the shots that day, however.

Reynolds does not expect significant changes to the state’s role in finding appointments. The Iowa Department of Public Health coordinates supply to county health departments, and the state has been using its 211 phone system to help Iowans 65 or older set appointments. It also has a website that helps people identify nearby providers offering the vaccine. Otherwise, Iowans navigate a patchwork of clinics, health departments and retail pharmacies to find appointments, which can be quickly snapped up.

“It’s still a supply issue,” Reynolds said. “We’re getting the vaccine out. I think the numbers are really reflective of, whatever comes in, we’re getting it out.”

The governor said Wednesday she supports Iowans who have used their free time to develop and launch online tools to help others find open appointments.

Kelly Garcia, the health department’s interim director, said after the news conference that fluctuating vaccine supply prevents providers from scheduling appointments further out than about a week.

Iowa recently surpassed 1 million doses of vaccine administered. More than 31% of Iowa adults had received at least one dose by Wednesday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. More than 380,000 Iowans have received both doses of the two-shot vaccines and nearly 30,000 more have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Vaccinations began in mid-December, focusing on health-care workers and nursing home residents and staff. In February, the state opened eligibility to people 65 or older and to workers in certain professions, including school staffers. Iowa this month opened vaccine eligibility to all Iowans ages 16-64 with other health conditions that make them at higher risk for severe cases of COVID-19, including obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and pregnancy.