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Your questions, answered | What is the latest timeline for Iowans to get the vaccine?

Text your questions to 515-457-1026 or email news@weareiowa.com.

IOWA, USA — To find a vaccine provider in Iowa, click here.

Feb. 1 marked the first day Iowans in Phase 1B—such as PreK-12 workers, individuals 65 years old and up or first responders—could get the COVID vaccine.

But there are still lots of questions about who is and isn't eligible to get the vaccine, where to get one and how setting up an appointment works.

Have a vaccine question? Text it to Local 5 at 515-457-1026 or email news@weareiowa.com.

What is the latest timeline for Iowans to get the vaccine?

The below screenshot is from vaccinate.iowa.gov, a new website from the Iowa Department of Public Health to show vaccine availability and the estimated timeline for vaccinations.

What you see in blue are the groups of Iowans currently eligible to get the vaccine under Phase 1B.

The little check marks represent 70% of that group projected to have at least one dose of the vaccine. Two doses must be administered for an individual to be counted as fully vaccinated. 

The state is predicting by mid-March, at least 70% of Iowans age 65 and over will have their first vaccine shot.

Credit: IDPH/Vaccinate.Iowa.gov
A COVID vaccine timeline for Iowans (vaccinate.iowa.gov)

So who's next? 

What you see in the dark orange—essential workers such as meatpacking employees, those who work in manufacturing plants—are listed in Tier 2 of Phase 1B.

According to the state's timeline, that group will open up in the first few weeks of April, the same time as Iowans who have disabilities and live in home settings.

The color all the way at the bottom of this timeline, yellow, is everyone else. There is no estimated timetable for when the remainder of the public will get its vaccine shot. It could be May or even into the summer.

What qualifies as an "underlying health condition"? And when can individuals with an underlying condition get vaccinated? 

This is one of the most comment questions in the Local 5 inbox. 

Iowa is still currently in Phase 1B of the statewide vaccination plan. 1A has been completed, but 1C is yet to come.

1C could still be a ways out, according to public health officials. But that is the phase Iowans with underlying health conditions will be eligible for the vaccine.

The Iowa Infectious Disease Advisory Council's recommendations refer to CDC for guidance regarding which conditions to include. 

The CDC lists the following conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Down Syndrome
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking

Anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 with one of the underlying health conditions would be included in Phase 1C.

RELATED: Elder Iowans can call 2-1-1 to schedule vaccine appointments starting March 8

RELATED: VaccineFinder: New tool aims to show where COVID-19 shots are available

How much of Iowa's population has been vaccinated? 

As of Feb. 16, Iowa has vaccinated between 11-13% of its population. 

If someone has recently had COVID, can they still get the vaccine? Is there a waiting period in between? 

Yes— you can still get the vaccine if you've had COVID-19. It's recommended you wait 90 days after being diagnosed before getting vaccinated. 

Do I still need to wear a mask after getting vaccinated?

The CDC recommends wearing a mask even after you've been vaccinated. Continue other mitigation practices as well— wash your hands and social distance. 

RELATED: CDC: Fully vaccinated people don't need to quarantine after COVID-19 exposure

How have people with lupus or other autoimmune disease reacted to the vaccine? 

In general, lupus medications will not affect how the vaccine works. That's according to the Lupus Foundation of America

In some cases, particularly for those who take powerful immunosuppressant drugs, your doctor may have special instructions for you so that you can get the greatest possible benefit from the vaccine.

Check with your doctor if you are concerned about how the vaccine fits into your treatment plan. 

How can Polk County have vaccine clinics when Madison County can't seem to get any vaccines?

Roxie asked this question and noted providers in Madison County have waiting lists with hundreds of names with no idea of when the vaccine will arrive. 

Local 5 found that vaccine distribution is determined by population size. The state is in charge of distributing vaccines to county health departments, and since Polk County is the largest county in Iowa, it is receiving more doses. 

When can veterans get the vaccine?

Right now, the Department of Veterans Affairs is scheduling shots for veterans who already get care at the VA and are at higher risk for the virus. 

Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, you also have to be at least 75 years old with significant medical problems. Again, this is the phase that the VA is working under right now because of the limited vaccine availability. 

After this phase, they'll move on to veterans 65 and older.

Support teams are currently reaching out to veterans who qualify to schedule them for appointments. You do not need to call or go to the VA to sign up for the vaccine. 

More information can be found here.

Can I get the vaccine in a different county from where I live? 

Yes.

According to an Iowa Department of Public Health memo, Infectious Disease Advisory Committee (IDAC) guidance states vaccine priority is based on populations, not the county of residence.

Individuals outlined in the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and State of Iowa priority groups may receive vaccines regardless of a permanent place of residence (county or state) or where the individual is seeking vaccination.

I have COPD and I'm 63: Where do I fit in to get the shot?

Right now, only Phase 1A (health care workers & nursing homes) and 1B (65+ years old and workers at high risk of exposure) are eligible. 

According to the CDC, people with COPD “are at increased risk”, the state's current plan does not include those with underlying condition in 1B.

Credit: WOI/Iowa Dept. of Public Health
This illustration shows who is included in the different tiers of Iowa's Phase 1B vaccination plan, set to begin Feb. 1

My husband is 74 years old: Where can he get his shot and will he be contacted when it's available?

Right now, Iowans 65 years and older can get a vaccine, you just have to sign up. But keep in mind, appointments are filling up quickly so you'll need to pack your patience. Go through your local public health department.

As for the second question, whether you'll be contacted when the vaccine is available? Well, that really all depends. Some health care providers are calling patients telling them to sign up. Others are putting it on you the individual to make the effort to get an appointment. Call your primary care physician to find out how they are handling it.

RELATED: Find a COVID-19 vaccine provider in Iowa: Hy-Vee, Walgreens announce additional doses for senior citizens

RELATED: Des Moines man details struggle to find a vaccine appointment

If a person has had a recent vaccination for shingles, will they be denied a coronavirus vaccine? 

While there are no known risks to getting the COVID vaccine and another vaccine back-to-back, the CDC and others recommend you wait at least 14 days. 

When a person is going to receive a COVID vaccine, should they stop taking any pain relievers? 

According to the Carroll County Public Health Department: no. 

You should, however, consult with your doctor for any medical advice including taking pain relievers after getting the shot.

Can people with chronic medical conditions get the vaccine right now?

In Iowa, no. Right now, the second phase rollout of vaccines doesn't include people with underlying health conditions. 

The state advisory board making the rules for the vaccination plan hasn't outlined when that group of Iowans will get the vaccine. 

What sort of list do I have to be on to get the vaccine? 

This one is kind of tricky, because it depends on the county where you live.

Some county health departments have created a list of eligible residents who will get called if there is leftover vaccine on a particular day. Other counties have done away with maintaining a list like that because it's just too complicated

So the short answer is call your local health department or go to their social media pages for information. 

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