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Iowan feels like she's 'competing' for vaccine appointment

Mimi Buttry, 66, said it took her many calls and web page refreshes to finally schedule her vaccine appointment.

DES MOINES, Iowa — More than 180,000 Iowans have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday afternoon, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. 

But pharmacies and local public health departments are overwhelmed with inquiries from Iowans wondering when they will be next. 

Iowans 65 years and older are prioritized in Phase 1B, which is set to start on Feb. 1. Some counties, like Polk, have already progressed to vaccinating this group of Iowans.

However, appointments are filling up quickly, forcing one of Iowa's most vulnerable populations to compete against one another for a dose. 

The now-vaccinated Mimi Buttry, 66, said it shouldn't be this difficult to make an appointment.

“So many 65 and older are now trying to get in and those slots are going like crazy," Buttry said. "I got my fingers crossed that it won’t be as challenging to get in line for the second shot."

It's up to individuals to find out where they can get vaccinated. Buttry did everything right. She called multiple pharmacies and checked websites until she got lucky.

Those that are approved to get the vaccine must remember to bring documentation to prove their age, i.e. a driver's license. The Polk County Health Department said it will open its phone lines on Fridays, starting at noon, for Iowans to make appointments for the following week.

The demand for vaccines is higher than the supply, meaning the state's rollout will happen slower than most would like. 

The state receives 19,500 doses per week, and the availability of doses determines the number of appointments allotted by providers. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds said last week that there are around 500,000 Iowans who are 65 years and older to be vaccinated. 

The state expects to receive 38,000 doses per week by Feb. 8.