Vaccine doses to increase

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses received by the state will increase next week.

“Yesterday on the weekly COVID response call with the White House, we learned that an additional 2.5 million doses of vaccine will be available on top of the 11 million doses available nationally. That’s a new total 13.5 million doses among the states,” she said.

For Iowa, that means the allocation of 49,900 this week will be almost 62,000 doses next week, an increase of 24 percent.”

In addition, she said the national pharmacy allocation will double from 1 to 2 million.

“This will help Iowa’s participating Hy-Vee and the CPESN pharmacies even further expand vaccine access to communities across the state, and especially including rural Iowa,” Reynolds said.

She also reported the White House announced it expects the FDA to announce it’s decision regarding emergency authorization for the Johnson & Johnson one dose vaccine by the end of the month.

“They are coordinating so that distribution can begin immediately if approved. While supply will be limited to just a few million doses at the initial rollout, Johnson & Johnson’s goal is to distribute 100 million doses by the end of June,” she reported.

In addition, the White House is committed to providing states with allocation projections beyond the current three week time period which has been talked about the last couple of weeks, Reynolds said.

“Not only will this make a positive difference at the state level, it will also enable our local public health departments to plan longer term with their vaccination partners to coordinate clinics in communities they serve,” she said.

“They also informed us they have been tracking a significant decrease in vaccinations over the weekends and they ask states to focus on increasing weekend vaccine capacity and hours when it’s more convenient for many people to get vaccinated and I fully support this approach,” Reynolds continued.

“Vaccinations on the weekend will help us meet our goal to get as many Iowans vaccinated as possible, and I know that’s what we all want,” she added.

Reynolds also announced that after reviewing the request for proposal from Microsoft about setting up a statewide registration and scheduling process, officials have decided not to go forward with the contract.

That decision came about after learning more about the scope of the Microsoft program’s solution, reviewing the challenges faced by other states regarding the rollout, and speaking with various vaccine partners, Reynolds said.

“It quickly became apparent that integrating all the many existing platforms already in use by providers, it will not be possible in a timely manner without significant disruption to their current systems and we did not want to slow down the progress we are making,” she said.

The focus will shift to optimizing the overall registration and processing system already in place for Iowans.

One of the questions from reporters in the audience centered on education.

According to the reporter, Arizona has decided that schools should not give letter grades to students but should be just pass/fail this year because of the disruption in education this year to the school year.

“Is this something you are considering to direct schools to not issue letter grades due to the disruption in their education?” the reporter asked.

Reynolds responded, “I’m proud that by far the vast majority of our schools have been open and they figured out a way to safely and responsibly get the students back in the classrooms. It is heartbreaking when you look at this data of the impact this is having on our children, especially those who need their schools and need to be in the classroom the most. So, I’m hoping that because of that we’re going to be in a better place.

“I said that I think we need to do the assessments, I don’t think all states are doing that. I think it’s extremely important that we do that so we have some sense of where we’re at and what we need to do to get kids that have fallen behind back on track,” she continued.

“But I cannot imagine the number of kids that have not been in the classroom for over a year and I don’t know, in some of these states it doesn’t look like it’s going to be anytime soon that they are going to get back in,” she said.

“Data and science does not support them not being in the classroom. That is where they should be. We can do it safely and responsibly and we need to focus on the kids and make sure that we’re providing the services that they need and make sure we are preparing them for their future,” she concluded.

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