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JOHNSTON, IOWA — Governor Kim Reynolds is endorsing the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19 by rolling up her sleeve. Reynolds on Wednesday became one of the first Iowans to receive the one-shot vaccine.

Governor Reynolds was joined by her husband, Kevin, and Kelly Garcia – the interim lead of the Iowa Department of Public Health – in being vaccinated live during her televised weekly news conference in Johnston. Reynolds said she chose that vaccine and that venue to make a point about trusting in science.

“Unfortunately some critics are suggesting that the J&J vaccine is somehow inferior to those from Pfizer and Moderna because its efficacy rate is lower,” Reynolds said, “This information is misleading and quite frankly it is irresponsible to position any vaccine as a less desirable option when its undergone the same rigorous clinical trials to test its safety and efficacy and has received approval by the FDA and the CDC.”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does have a lower efficacy rate than the other two vaccines. However the ease of storage and the fact that it can be delivered in a single shot outweigh those concerns. Governor Reynolds invited one of the state’s top infectious disease specialists to give a second opinion during her news conference.

“This vaccine is safe, it is extremely effective. We encourage anyone who has the opportunity to get a vaccine to get the first one available to you,” said Dr. Pat Winokur with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, “These vaccines are safe, they are effective, they are exceptionally good at preventing severe disease.”

Governor Reynolds also announced plans to open up vaccines to the next group of eligible Iowans in the tier structure her administration is using to determine who can be vaccinated.  “Our plan is to vaccinate nearly 160,000 employees who work or live in congregate settings at the 456 food processing, ag production and manufacturing and distribution companies across Iowa,” Reynolds said. The Governor anticipates it will take five weeks to complete that process, depending on vaccine availability.

Governor Reynolds also shared a positive assessment from the Biden administration on expected increases in vaccine allotments in coming weeks. The Biden administration now says that they could be distributing up to six million doses per week across the country by the end of March.

COVID-19 has killed at least 5,501 Iowans in less than a year.