With Iowa’s fully vaccinated population nearing around 37%, vaccine hesitancy is starting to sink in as counties decline full vaccination allocations and metro area appointments fill more slowly.
Gov. Kim Reynolds during her weekly press conference on Wednesday said that 43 of the state’s counties have declined some or all of their vaccine allocation for next week in effort to accommodate lagging demand. In more populated areas, appointment slots are remaining open for longer than when the vaccines were initially released.
“While it’s disappointing to see the shift, choosing to accept only the vaccine that can be used is absolutely the right and responsible thing to do. Vaccine supply that’s been declined is being reallocated to more populous counties in the metro areas where demand is still higher,” Reynolds said at her press conference on Wednesday.
“But even in larger communities, clinics are now filling up over the course of a couple of days rather than just a few hours. Some pharmacies are seeing appointments still open.”
Reynolds is employing trusted higher education, national guard and Republican leaders to dispel concern among hesitant groups including young, military service members and right-leaning communities.
Citing a study published earlier this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Reynolds said young and middle-aged adults are least likely to be vaccinated, which is why the state has decided to “intently focus” on vaccinating college students before they return home. During the press conference, the Governor brought in Iowa State Associate Vice President of Student Health and Wellness Erin Baldwin to speak on the importance of vaccinating college-aged students.
“We really want to encourage not only our campus community to get vaccinated but all adults. We know that vaccination efforts are going to support our efforts to return to a more traditional Iowa State University campus experience,” said Baldwin.
Also featured during the press conference was Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Benjamin Corell, who said that one-half of current national guard members have not received their vaccine.
Corell shared his own serious experience with COVID-19, which he contracted in November. The General said he was still experiencing symptoms five months later and spent a week in the hospital during the worst of his symptoms. He completed his second dose of the Moderna vaccine in March.
“Recently we gained a tool to stop this virus from perpetuating. We now have vaccines. We now have renewed hope,” he said. “I had no hesitation in becoming vaccinated. I did it for my family, I did it for my friends, my coworkers, and for my community…For other Iowans who have worn the uniform and served our nation who have not been vaccinated. I call on each of you now to serve your communities in a different way.”
Corell added the state was at a “tipping point” where supply was about to surpass demand.
Associated Press reporter Dave Pitt at the press conference asked Reynolds if vaccine hesitancy is also linked with Republicans’ resistance to doses, which is demonstrated by Associated Press polling.
“I’ve laid out some of the dynamics and the age brackets is where we’re seeing the largest hesitancy,” Reynolds responded. “And that’s your poll, but I think we need to look larger scale… It really goes back to people they feel comfortable with, people that they respect, community leaders, bringing them into the fold.
Reynolds noted that her Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg would be getting vaccinated publicly in Sioux City on Friday in order to curb GOP-leaning and youth hesitancy.
“I’m sending the Lieutenant Governor up to get his vaccine—he fits that dynamic that we’re talking about. Not just because of the party dynamic, he fits the age dynamic.”
by Isabella Murray
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