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Reynolds encourages young Iowans to vaccinate against COVID-19

Governor notes higher cases among ages 18-24, hospitalizations affecting more middle-age Iowans
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday, April 7, 2021, that the state would create a new...
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday, April 7, 2021, that the state would create a new position in the Department of Corrections to oversee prison security in light of the fatal attack at Anamosa State Penitentiary last month.
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 10:51 AM CDT
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JOHNSTON, Iowa (WOWT) - Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday encouraged younger populations to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as cases in such age groups were on the rise — and the state planned to begin offering much of its largest expected allocation to date to college students.

Reynolds said more than 1.7 million vaccination doses have been delivered to Iowa, and 83% of all doses have been administered, making Iowa 10th in the nation in using its vaccine supply.

In her update on the state’s COVID-19 response, the governor said that to date, 44% of Iowans ages 18 and older have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 87% of those ages 65 and older have had at least one dose as well. Additionally, 28% of Iowans are fully vaccinated, making Iowa 9th in the country to fully vaccinate its population.

Vaccinations are now open to all Iowans, with those ages 16 and older able to get Pfizer vaccinations, and anyone ages 18 and older eligible for any authorized vaccine.

Reynolds said that this week, Iowa is receiving its biggest COVID-19 vaccine allocation to date: 160,770 total vaccination doses, including distribution to health departments as well as the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

The state is receiving 45,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week — almost as many doses as administered in total since it became available, the governor said. But next week, there will be a significant reduction in Johnson & Johnson doses, with no doses expected again until the end of the month, Reynolds said. That drop is likely due to the failed quality check Johnson & Johnson reported in late March.

With this allocation, the state will begin offering vaccination clinics for college students this week while continuing employer clinics and vaccination opportunities for the state’s hard-to-reach populations.

The state is focusing its vaccination message and efforts on college students and young adults as many of the recent increases in positive cases in Iowa and nationwide 18-24 years old, Reynolds said.

“And while many of them will experience only mild symptoms, they risk spreading it to others,” she said.

Iowa’s recent COVID-19 hospitalizations have shifted from the elderly to middle-aged adults, the governor said. Most of these hospitalizations — 61% — are among adults in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, she said.

The governor also said that while she absolutely encourages Iowans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — she received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine herself last month — she strongly opposes vaccine passports, noting privacy and HIPPA rights as well as questions about what happens to such data and how it might otherwise be used.

Department of Corrections update

Reynolds also announced some changes to the Iowa Department of Corrections as the investigation into the deaths during an inmate attack at Anamosa State Penitentiary on March 23 continue.

The department is creating a new position, the Director of Prison Security, which will be a direct report to the central office, the governor said. That position will focus on assessing and improving the security of all Iowa prisons.

The internal review is supposed to inform the state on whether the prison is understaffed, among other things, and an outside team will also be brought in to examine the entire Iowa prison system.

Watch Wednesday’s news conference

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