‘There’s More We Could Have Done This Week,’ County Leader Says After State Restores Vaccine Supply

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GRINNELL, Iowa — Health leaders in five Iowa counties now know they will once again get their allotted COVID-19 vaccine supply for next week after Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration halted that supply last week.

Last Thursday, the Reynolds administration notified health leaders in five counties — Buchanan, Chickasaw, Hancock, Poweshiek and Washington — that because they hadn’t used at least 80% of their vaccine supply, the state would not allocate the following week’s supply. But this week, the administration notified the counties that vaccine shipments would resume.

Why the change? “Each county has taken steps to address any planning or reporting issues, and we are confident they are on track to receive additional vaccine allocations to administer to Iowans,” Iowa Department of Public Health spokeswoman Sarah Ekstrand emailed to WHO 13.

Jennifer Havens, chief executive officer of UnityPoint Health – Grinnell Regional Medical Center, blamed the halted supply in Poweshiek County on the state’s timing.

“I would say that COVID-19 has taught us to be flexible and adaptable,” Havens said Tuesday after learning the county’s vaccine supply would resume. “This is just another example of how we have just learned to be very nimble in the moment.”

Havens said the state counted vaccinations given for the county as of last Wednesday. But Poweshiek County’s vaccination information from a clinic on that same day wasn’t fully entered into the system that the state uses until the following day. Without that update, the county failed to reach the state’s newly announced 80% threshold. “There can be a delay,” Havens explained. “After a vaccine is given, it’s uploaded into the system that registers with the state and that is electronic. So we’re doing our very best in real time.”

She said the goal is to have the information updated within 24 hours of the vaccination. Havens said the county didn’t have to cancel any appointments that were already scheduled. However, it was also unable to add appointments for those who needed them. “We did not have to turn people away or shut down clinics and we are grateful for that. Obviously, had we gotten more vaccine on Friday, there’s more we could have done this week,” said Havens.

Havens said the county vaccinated more than 500 people last week and planned to do the same this week.

Health officials in Hancock County also said the state’s timing cost them their weekly vaccination supply. The county had clinics scheduled last Thursday and Friday, which didn’t make it into the state’s count on Wednesday.

The county released a statement to WHO 13 in response to its canceled weekly allotment:

Hancock County Health System’s Community Health Director and Leaders have successfully worked with the Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Public Health and MercyOne to secure COVID-19 vaccine to allow us to continue with our planned vaccination clinics this week.

Hancock County Public Health has been assured they also will receive their allotment of vaccine next week.

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