The first 1,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine arrive at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics Dec. 14, 2020. UI Hospitals & Clinics was the first in the state to administer the vaccine. (photo/University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics)

UPDATE Jan. 27, 2021: The state hit another grim milestone, with a total of 4,500 Iowans reported having died of coronavirus since March 2020.

Linn County Public Health announced that residents age 65 and older can receive COVID-19 vaccine beginning today, Jan. 26, 2021.

Iowa’s vaccine rollout for Phase 1B, which includes Iowans age 65 and older, officially begins Feb. 1, but Linn County has about 800 doses available to offer that age group as it ends Phase 1A.

Linn County has an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 health care personnel, who are in Phase 1A. Vaccination also is ongoing in long-term care facilities, which began Dec. 28.

As of Jan. 26, 13,852 doses have been administered by Linn County providers, with 2,880 vaccine series completed, according to Linn County Public Health. That is separate from the nursing home program, which is under a federal program in partnership with chain pharmacies.

The nursing home rollout has been slower than predicted, but is expected to finish soon.

Related: Iowa ranks near bottom in vaccine allocation

Although extra doses were available to begin vaccinating residents outside of Phase 1A, health officials advised against calling doctors offices for an appointment.

“LCPH made the decision to offer this vaccine immediately, rather than wait until February 1, in agreement with local healthcare providers,” Linn County Public Heath stated in a coronavirus update. “Healthcare providers with vaccine began contacting patients on January 25 to offer appointments.”

MercyCare Clinics, UnityPoint Health and several independent health care providers will contact their patients age 65 and older for an opportunity to make a vaccination appointment.

“These organizations ask that patients do not call their clinics requesting the vaccine at this time, as a high volume of calls makes it more difficult to address those patients with immediate needs,” the update noted. “Additionally, patients should not walk-in to clinics at this time to request vaccine. We ask our community to be patient as we all work to vaccinate as many individuals as possible given the vaccine availability.”

Linn County Public Health will assist residents age 65 and older who do not have a primary care provider with locating a vaccine provider. Call (319) 892-6097 for assistance.

As of 10 a.m. Jan. 26, 2021, Iowa reported 314,066 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while 4,492 Iowans have died of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Iowa reported 195,260 doses of vaccine had been administered as of Jan. 25, the most recent data available, with 130,132 first doses and 32,564 completing the two-dose series.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported 361,575 doses had been distributed to Iowa as of Jan. 26.

Also as of Jan. 26, Iowa surpassed 2 million completed Test Iowa assessments, with 2,001,871 as of 10 a.m.

Only 1,451,984 Iowans have been tested for coronavirus, with some of that number coming from outside the Test Iowa program, which was given to an out-of-state company in a no-bid contract with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration.

The Washington Post and Iowa Capital Dispatch reported Jan. 26 that Iowa had reclaimed its title as the state with the lowest rate of COVID-19 testing.

On a per capita basis, Iowa currently ranks last in testing among the 50 states, administering 586 tests for every 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to the Post’s database, with the number of tests administered affecting the number of new infections reported.

More: Iowa Republican legislators forego mask mandate; are next in line for vaccine