Reynolds Questioned Over Urban/Rural Divide In Vaccine Availability

During a press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed lengthy wait times for vaccines in parts of Iowa. All Iowa residents are set to be eligible to receive the vaccine starting April 5.

COVID-19 vaccine supply in the state has been challenging to obtain—Iowans have even taken to social media platforms to help their neighbors find doses. Reynolds said her administration wasn’t the cause of these significant wait times, which are expected to continue for some time. The supply of vaccines just outstrips their demand.

“It’s not me, it is all of our local public health on the frontlines and all of our providers and all of our hospitals and clinics and religious communities working together to get these vaccine clinics set up, to be able to implement the vaccine,” she said.

“A lot of our providers are continuing to enhance their system to register. As we see more doses come in, you’re going to see that wait continue to decline, but it is a supply and demand issue and it’s going to be a while.”

The state’s vaccine allocation was questioned, however, as reporting has found residents from more populated areas of the state driving out of county to rural providers with extra doses.

Reynolds said vaccine distribution is allocated by a number of factors, population being the original determinant. As the state has moved to include other tiers of vaccine qualifiers, providers will work to disperse extra supply.

“Our rural communities are ready to move to the next phase and some of our larger communities aren’t. So continuing to take that excess vaccine and then figure out how we can address some of the backlogs, like in Polk and Cedar Rapids and Waterloo and Davenport,” she said.

“As we saw that there were more requests than there were appointments, especially in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, [providers] were able to adjust and move additional vaccine to those areas so that we could meet the need.”

Iowa first opened available vaccines to first responders and health and child care workers, then to frontline essential workers in food, agriculture, distribution, and manufacturing sectors and has continued to expand eligibility for Iowans with underlying health conditions and anyone over 65.

On April 5, Reynolds announced on Wednesday, the entire state becomes eligible for inoculation. She said that realistic expectations should be set for vaccine wait times as healthcare providers continue to try bettering the distribution systems.

“We’ve tried to level set expectations from the very beginning,” she said. “So as we identify the numbers in the population and we move through the tier, then we move to the next. And every day, they’re enhancing the programs and how we reach out but it still comes down to the number of vaccines that we’re able to get into the state, out to the communities and into the arms of Iowans, and we’re going to continue that every day.”


by Isabella Murray
Posted 3/23/21

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