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Iowa’s Next Phase of COVID-19 Vaccinations to Include Those 75 and Older and Other High-Risk Populations

Coronavirus

In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa — The next phase of Iowa’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign will include people 75 years and older and those in other high-risk populations in the state, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday.

Iowa’s Phase 1B guidelines are based on the recommendations of the Iowa Disease Advisory Council (IDAC).

“Due to the current and short-term projections for vaccine allocation for Iowa, IDAC recommendations for Phase 1B focus on individuals who are age 75 and over, as well as other high risk populations. This includes Iowans who are most vulnerable to exposure to COVID-19 or high-risk for illness as the result of a COVID-19 infection, with a significant focus on equity.  Some examples include individuals with disabilities living in home settings, correctional facilities, other congregate settings and meatpacking plant workers,” The Iowa Department of Public Health said in a press release Tuesday.

Read the full list of Phase 1B priority populations here.

The Iowa Department of Public Health will follow all of the IDAC’s recommendations, with two additions.

“In addition to IDAC’s recommendations for inclusion in Phase 1B are inspectors responsible for health, life and safety as well as government officials, including staff, to ensure continuity of government, engaged in state business at the Iowa Capitol during the legislative session,” the Iowa Department of Public Health said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health projects Phase 1B to begin no later than Feb. 1. The health department said it will require about 300,000 to 400,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to complete Phase 1A statewide. Iowa has been allocated approximately 226,000 doses to date.

The health department expects to release more details soon on where Phase 1B populations will receive their vaccines.

“Many of these vaccines will be administered via employer-based clinics. There are also approximately 1,700 enrolled vaccine providers in the state. Many of these providers are pharmacies and clinical offices that are equipped to handle screening and scheduling for vaccination efforts. County health departments may partner with these providers to ensure their residents have access to the vaccine when it becomes available,” the Iowa Department of Public Health said.

By not including all people 65 years and older yet, Iowa’s Phase 1B guidelines differ from what the federal government recommended on Tuesday.

The Trump administration is asking states to speed delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to people 65 and older and to others at high risk by no longer holding back the second dose of the two-dose shots, officials said Tuesday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that “the administration in the states has been too narrowly focused.”

As a result, he said, the Trump administration is now asking states to vaccinate people age 65 and over and those under 65 with underlying health conditions that put them at high risk. He said the vaccine production is such that the second dose of the two-shot vaccine can be released without jeopardizing immunization for those who got the first shot.

“We now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available for people from ongoing production, Azar told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “So everything is now available to our states and our health care providers.”

Azar said it was now time to move “to the next phase on the vaccine program” and expand the pool of those eligible to get the first dose.

That also means expanding the number of places where people can be vaccinated by adding community health centers and additional drug stores.

“We’ve already distributed more vaccine than we have health care workers and people in nursing homes,” Azar said. “We’ve got to get to more channels of administration. We’ve got to get it to pharmacies, get it to community health centers.”

He said the federal government “will deploy teams to support states doing mass vaccination efforts if they wish to do so.”

In response to the federal government’s recommendations Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health said, “As of today we’ve learned from the federal government of significant increased availability of the vaccine based on each state’s ability to distribute supply quickly and number of residents over age 65, or under age 65 with significant health conditions. Once we have reasonable confidence that supply meets the demands of this broader eligibility criteria, we will activate the broader distribution criteria. From the very beginning from this distribution effort, it has been our goal to reach all Iowans.”

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