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Polk County Asks State for Extra Vaccine After Wrongly Projecting Supply, IDPH Won’t Take from Other Counties

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed Tuesday to WHO 13 that it has no plans to take allotments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine away from the state’s other 98 counties to make up for a shortfall in Polk County. The shortfall resulted from the director overestimating how much vaccine that the federal government could increase in the future.

“I’ll own it,” Polk County Health Director Helen Eddy told the board of supervisors, “…an error on our part.”

After seeing supplies in January, Eddy projected increases in the weeks ahead. She allowed the county to use vaccine set aside for second doses for people to instead get used for first doses for other people. When her expected overall vaccine supply didn’t increase, she realized that the county had a projected shortfall of 14,000 second doses for people.

Nola Aigner Davis, a county health spokeswoman told WHO 13 that the county requested additional Moderna vaccine supply from the state’s overall allotment. However, IDPH has no plans to do that.

IDPH spokesperson Sarah Ekstrand sent this statement:

“In an effort to vaccinate as many individuals as possible, Polk County Public Health made the decision to use vaccine reserved for boost (second) doses as first doses, creating a shortfall of several thousand boost doses needed to complete the vaccination series for many individuals.

Without new CDC guidance, the Iowa Department of Public Health is advising counties not to use significant numbers of boost doses as primary doses.

Together with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Polk County has developed a plan that will prioritize providing second doses, while providing limited first dose appointments at clinics and select pharmacies. The plan in place ensures that Polk County’s vaccine schedule will reconcile entirely by the week of April 12. At this time, in order to maintain consistent allocations to counties statewide, Polk County will receive their current allocation. IDPH is working with Polk County to monitor their progress and evaluate supply allocation.

Polk County residents should be assured that while it’s important to get a second dose, the first dose builds significant protection against the COVID-19 virus and, when necessary, second doses can be delayed without restarting the vaccination series.”

Sarah Ekstrand, Iowa Department of Public Health

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