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With decline in demand and 2nd dose appointments missed, state changing tactics to get more Iowans vaccinated

As of Wednesday morning, 1,112,217 people have been fully vaccinated in Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa — While Iowa may be fifth in the nation when it comes to administering COVID-19 vaccine doses, demand is still waning across the state. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday more than 75,000 doses were declined by Iowa counties. 54 counties declined their entire allocation while 34 only declined some of their allocations.

Only 11 counties accepted all doses allotted to them. 

Reynolds also reported:

  • More than 46% of eligible Iowans are fully vaccinated (13th in the nation)
  • More than 57% of eligible Iowans 18 and older have received at least one dose

The governor also addressed the increasing number of Iowans who are overdue for their second dose.

"As of May 2, approximately 66,500 Iowans had received their first dose and are now of course eligible for their second dose but haven't received it yet," Reynolds said. "But nearly 41% of those individuals are less than one week past due. So I think the message that we want to relay here is that even if you're overdue for your second dose, don't worry about that. It's really more important that you get it late than not get it at all." 

Because of this, the governor announced Iowans who are eligible for their second dose can get it from any pharmacy near them. All the person needs to do is bring their vaccine card with them to get their second dose. 

Iowa has nearly 79,000 extra doses banked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last week, the White House informed governors that those doses could be pulled out as needed by the state, according to Reynolds. 

"However, the White House changed this approach, announcing that it would redirect vaccine doses not ordered by some states to a new federal vaccine bank, and this would make them available to states where demand is higher," Reynolds said. 

States can now request up to an additional 50% of doses for their weekly allocation. 

"While the change was significant and it was a sudden shift, it's a sensible one," the governor said. "As I've said from the start, vaccines should not be sitting in storage, which is why we have been committed to making vaccination as convenient as possible for Iowans."

The state is also launching a new vaccine awareness campaign to get more people to clinics. She pointed to the Iowa Cubs and Hy-Vee, which held a mini clinic outside Principal Park Tuesday night for fans.

VERIFY: No, the U.S. doesn’t need to vaccinate 100% of population to reach herd immunity

Organizations can also now reach out to local public health departments to request pop-up clinics at their events.

"For other organizations that are interested in hosting a pop-up vaccine clinic at an upcoming event, we would encourage you to contact your local public health department to help with logistics and administration," Reynolds said. 

And coming soon to the state's vaccine website will be a schedule of pop-up clinics for Iowans to take advantage of. Reynolds did not specify when that function will be on the website. 

Reynolds addresses the state's decision to decline $95 million for school testing

"Iowa did decline $95 million in federal funding that was allocated specifically to conduct surveillance testing in K-12 schools," Reynolds said Wednesday.

The funding itself was part of a national effort to encourage schools to reopen for in-person learning, the governor explained. 

"As you know, the majority of Iowa schools have been safely and successfully open for the entire school year, and with only a few weeks left this school year, we've proven that it's possible to be in the classroom safely and responsibly," the governor added.

Reynolds stated proper mitigation efforts implemented in schools have made it so "we haven't experienced the large-scale outbreaks that school districts across the country remain fearful of." 

That being said, she addressed the recent outbreak at Iowa City schools. 

"Even when the Iowa City schools recently experienced an outbreak among students, they declined testing support when it was offered, because there were already enough testing resources available within the community to serve the students and the families who want to get," Reynolds said. 

According to iowacovid19tracker.org, who partners with the Iowa State Education Association to track school outbreaks, 77 students and two staff members with the Iowa City Community School District are currently positive for the virus.

There are 113 students and six staff currently quarantining in the district. 

Reynolds said no Iowa schools have claimed expenses for testing supplies or services to date, and more than $290 million from previously allocated funding remains available for that use "should the need arise." 

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