Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds received a newly-released, one-dose, Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday during a live press conference—a bittersweet action to some Iowans who appreciate her attempt to dispel vaccine misinformation amid the state’s continuation of lax pandemic mitigation efforts.
Reynolds, who has been widely criticized for her attempts to undermine the pandemic response with casual re-opening policies, said she was getting the vaccine because she “wouldn’t ask Iowans to do anything that [she’s] not willing to do.” Vaccine skepticism is currently making its way through the state—several bills aimed at loosening inoculation mandates have in recent weeks passed legislative subcommittees.
“She’s constantly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, and now that she’s lifted all mandates she and her family jump ahead and get vaccinated,” said Des Moines resident Jeremie Taylor.
“But I am glad she showed people that getting a vaccine is the best thing to do.”
Reynolds, who received her dose with her husband Kevin and interim Iowa Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia, defended the Johnson and Johnson vaccine while questions swirl of its strength compared to the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
“This information is misleading, and quite frankly, it’s irresponsible to position any vaccine as a less desirable option when it’s undergone the same rigorous clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy and has received approval by the FDA and the CDC. Especially at a time when vaccination is paramount to our recovery and our supply continues to be limited,” Reynolds said at her press conference.
“As you’re weighing your options for vaccination, it’s important that you’re getting your information from credible sources.”
With the arrival of 25,600 Johnson and Johnson vaccines in Iowa, the state will move into its next tier of vaccinations to immunize more essential workers, Reynolds said. Currently, 741,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Iowa.
Reynolds said she was waiting this long to get the vaccine because she wanted high-prioritized individuals to first receive theirs.
“I wanted to make sure that our health care workers were vaccinated. I wanted to make sure our long-term care residents and staff and our assisted living, that they were able to get the vaccine. I wanted to make sure that essential workers and our educators and other populations were able to get the vaccine. We’re at 70% on all of those … So I felt comfortable,” she said.
But Iowans remain divided on their impressions of Reynolds receiving the long-awaited vaccine.
“I get that she can’t really win either way with this. I hate almost everything she has done regarding the pandemic. But regarding the vaccine, getting it demonstrates that she thinks it’s safe. Waiting for her ‘turn’ would be the better human thing to do,” said Ames resident Kim Moore.
“I wish her message was a lot more focused and clear about the whole thing. Science over politics. Some of the misinformation is just plain nuts.”
Mary, an Urbandale resident, said she just couldn’t rectify Reynolds’ inoculation after the many months of lenient COVID restrictions.
“[I know] a number of people who have had so much trouble getting the vaccine. She has been lax, was present at Trump rallies, and hypocritical at best. People need the vaccine and don’t need to watch her showboat. She is healthy and 61, better off than many who want it,” she said.
by Isabella Murray
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