In another sign that Iowa and Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration was not prepared to distribute the COVID-19 vaccination, the Iowa Department of Public Health just this week is hiring up what appears to be key staffers for the task.
On an online job posting board for Iowa government jobs, the IDPH is hiring at least seven positions related to the vaccine. That includes a “Vaccine Communications Specialist,” which would be tasked with serving “as the central point of coordination for all vaccine related communications needs as a member of the vaccine response team at IDPH.” The role will also create “talking points for local public health,” something that likely would have been useful at the start of Iowa’s vaccine rollout.
Reynolds’ administration has received significant criticism for being unprepared for the initial stages of vaccine distribution, a situation they obviously knew for months they would have to handle.
Earlier this month, Reynolds put out a call for vendors who could set up a centralized vaccine appointment website. This was weeks after Iowa ranked near the bottom of states for vaccine distribution. Today, however, Reynolds announced that the state was cancelling the planned Microsoft offer to build the appointment website, one week after accepting the contract. Instead, the state will work with a 211 system and local agencies already working on getting the vaccine out. A state call center idea has also been scrapped.
The state is hiring call center workers for a system that works with health care providers. Also posted on the jobs site is a Vaccine Administration Team Coordinator that would coordinate “a 36 member team” in roughly half the state to help with “Points of Dispensing” for the vaccine. They are also bringing on a new Management Analyst to compile, analyze and display data on vaccine distribution.
by Pat Rynard
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