JOHNSTON, IOWA (WHO-TV) — The state of Iowa will launch a new website dedicated to directing Iowans to more information on how to get the COVID-19 vaccine in their community. However, Governor Reynolds stresses Iowans won’t be able to schedule an appointment on the site.
The site – www.vaccinate.iowa.gov – will launch on Friday, Governor Reynolds announced at her weekly news conference on Thursday. The site will provide Iowans with up-to-date information on vaccine eligibility and a ‘vaccine locator’ tool to help Iowans find providers nearby who are offering the vaccine.
Governor Reynolds highlighted the limitations of the site in her announcement. “I want to be clear, you cannot schedule an appointment on this site or register to be contacted when scheduling is available,” Reynolds said, “But it will connect you to a provider for scheduling in their system.”
Governor Reynolds says the state will launch another initiative on Friday to reach out to older Iowans in need of help finding a vaccine. A team of ‘vaccine navigators’ – working through the 211 call center – will reach out to older Iowans who’ve contacted their Area Agency on Aging to express concerns about vaccine availability. Beginning on March 8th, the state plans to open up the 211 call center to vaccine-related questions and scheduling help via these ‘navigators.’
These new tools will come online as the news about vaccine availability gets better from the Biden administration. Governor Reynolds says that the Biden White House has promised an increase of vaccine allotments starting this week after nationwide winter storms slowed distribution last week.
A new vaccine is expected to be available soon as well. Johnson & Johnson has developed a single-shot vaccine that is now being reviewed by the FDA for emergency use approval. That approval is expected soon. Governor Reynolds says the state is already expecting an initial shipment of 25,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it becomes available.
A new tier of Iowans could soon be eligible for the vaccine due to the increase in supply and options. By next week, 70% of Iowans in ‘Tier One’ will have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the governor. The state’s population of those age 65+ is expected to hit that 70% mark soon as well. Once the state has passed those milestones, a new group of Iowans will be made eligible for a vaccine. That would include those who work in food processing, ag production, distribution, and manufacturing industries as well as disabled Iowans who live in home settings. Approval for those groups to be vaccinated could come as soon as early-March.
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