Iowa received its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, and now anticipates a third option, with emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Feb. 27, 2021. (photo/University of Iowa Health Care)

(UPDATE March 1, 2021: Iowa will hit a milestone this week, with the Iowa Department of Public Health reporting the state will receive more than 100,000 vaccine doses: 27,830 through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership and 91,100 in its regular state allocation, including 25,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. See the full announcement, at end.)

Iowa is expecting a shipment of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week, after the single-dose vaccine was authorized this weekend for emergency use.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said at her Feb. 25 press conference that Iowa anticipates receiving 25,800 initial doses of the vaccine, which will likely go toward vaccinating essential food and manufacturing workers, who are in Iowa’s next vaccination phase.

The vaccine is among just over 91,000 doses expected in Iowa this coming week.

Johnson & Johnson announced it expects to deliver enough doses by the end of March to vaccinate more than 20 million people in the United States. The company plans to deliver 100 million single-shot vaccines to the U.S. during the first half of 2021.

Dr. Stanley Perlman, professor of microbiology and immunology and professor of pediatrics at the University of Iowa, was among almost two dozen members who met Feb. 26, 2021, as part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines & Related Biological Products advisory committee.

Dr. Stanley Perlman (photo/University of Iowa Health Care)

Members recommended the FDA give emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine candidate, developed at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. The FDA authorized the vaccine Feb. 27, the next day.

The vaccine becomes the third available for emergency use in the United States, joining those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was shown to be 72 percent effective in the U.S. and 66 percent effective overall in preventing moderate disease. It was 85 percent effective at preventing severe disease and demonstrated 100 percent protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths within 28 days of the single shot.

While Pfizer and Moderna trials showed both were about 95 percent effective at preventing infection, Perlman noted those studies were conducted before newer COVID-19 variants were circulating, so a comparison between the three vaccines is difficult.

Johnson & Johnson has at least two advantages: only one shot is needed, versus two doses spread either 21 or 28 days apart for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and the Janssen vaccine does not require the ultra-cold needed to store the Moderna, and especially, Pfizer vaccines.

Perlman, who has studied the coronavirus for nearly four decades, advised Iowans to get whatever vaccine is available.

“They work very well,” he said. “They’re very safe and they’re amazingly effective. There’s really no downside to getting a vaccine.”

See more from Dr. Perlman in the Corridor Business Journal

At her press conference, Gov. Reynolds also announced a new website to help Iowans find vaccine, at, but the site does not provide a way to schedule a vaccination.

Iowans age 65 and older who have difficulty navigating online systems can call 211 beginning March 8, 2021, to schedule a shot with the help of a vaccine navigator, she said. Those will be administered at Hy-Vee pharmacies.

As of Feb. 28, 2021, Iowa has had 363,469 confirmed COVID-19 cases and as of the same date, 5,471 Iowans have died of COVID-19, in less than one year.

While vaccinations at nursing homes throughout the state have been effective at bringing down the number of outbreaks, which reached a record high of 152 on Thanksgiving Day 2020, the number increased by one on Feb. 28, to 19 outbreaks.

COVID-19 hospitalizations also increased on Feb. 28, to 196, with 150 patients in intensive care units, an increase over the previous 24 hours. Iowans admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 also increased, to 39, and the number of patients on ventilators rose to 19.

Health officials warn that even as Americans are immunized, that masks, social distancing and other measures used to curb the pandemic need to continue, especially as new variants spread that are more easily transmissible.

The U.S. surpassed 500,000 COVID-19 deaths on Feb. 22, 2021. The death toll stood at 508,949 on Feb. 27, with 28,285,544 cases confirmed nationwide as of the same day.

As of Feb. 27, 658,639 Iowans had received the COVID-19 vaccine, with just 169,617 receiving both doses of the two-shot series. The CDC reported that 901,745 doses had been distributed to Iowa as of that date.

More: Cedar Rapids pet dog is first non-human COVID-19 case in Iowa

March 1, 2021 announcement from the Iowa Department of Public Health:

IDPH will direct the Johnson & Johnson vaccine allocation to 17 Iowa counties (listed below) with significant Phase 1B, Tier 2 populations, who are frontline essential workers in food, agriculture, distribution, and manufacturing sectors and who live or work in settings that make social distancing unfeasible. This approach will ensure that local public health can coordinate with employers on the quick administration of COVID-19 vaccine to essential workforce who have been disproportionally affected by the virus. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires only one dose and can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, making it less logistically complex to handle and administer.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was shown to prevent hospitalization and death in clinical trials 100% of the time, and 85% effective at preventing severe illness from the virus.

IDPH will share details regarding the continued weekly allocation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when they are confirmed.

Allocation Numbers

State Total Allocation: 91,100
Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership (Hy-Vee and CPESN): 27,830

Counties Receiving Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Black Hawk, Buena Vista, Cerro Gordo, Clarke, Crawford, Dallas, Dubuque, Linn, Louisa, Marion, Marshall, Muscatine, Plymouth, Pottawattamie, Sioux, Tama and Wright.

We encourage Iowans to remain patient as more vaccine arrives in the weeks and months ahead. It is also critical to continue practicing the mitigation measures that can slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Wear a mask or face covering
Practice social distancing with those outside your household
Clean your hands frequently with soap and water
Stay home if you feel sick
Get tested if you are exposed to, or have symptoms of COVID-19
Get a COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible