Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowa has been receiving only 19,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine per week, ranking the state 46th nationally in allocation numbers.
Reynolds made the revelation during a press conference on Jan. 21, 2021.
With just over 3.1 million residents, Iowa ranks 30th or 31st in population among states, depending on the source cited.
When asked how the Trump administration — in charge of vaccine distribution until Jan. 20, when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated — made allocation decisions, Reynolds did not have a complete answer.
“It’s loosely supposed to be based on population,” she said, adding that given the high number of elderly residents in Iowa, her staff is reaching out “to see if we can get that (number of doses) bumped up.”
The first Iowans were vaccinated against the coronavirus on Dec. 14, 2020.
Iowa Republican legislators are pushing to require all school districts to offer 100 percent in-person teaching, but Reynolds said she could not guarantee that teachers would be vaccinated before that proposal, which she backs, would take effect.
At least 16 teachers in Iowa have died due to COVID-19, according to media reports.
Reynolds promised that Iowa would move to phase 1B of vaccine distribution on Feb. 1, which includes Iowans ages 65 and older, but warned that sufficient doses would not immediately be available for the more than 500,000 Iowans in that tier.
“The demand for the vaccine will vastly exceed our supply,” she said. “Iowans will need to be patient.”
Reynolds advised Iowans to watch social media for announcements on availability of vaccine, but did not address elderly residents or others who do not have online access.
As of Jan. 21, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported Iowa has so far received 291,075 doses of vaccine. Reynolds said 160,000 first doses of the 2-dose series have been administered.
The Trump administration promised 39,000 doses per week beginning Feb. 8, she noted.
According to the CDC, Iowa’s vaccine allocation equates to 9,226 doses per 100,000 residents. That compares to neighboring Nebraska, with a population of just 1.9 million, at 12,278 doses per 100,000 residents. Nebraska had received 237,500 doses as of Jan. 21.
As another example, Arkansas, with a population of about 3 million, has so far received 334,825 vaccine doses, according to the CDC, or 11,095 per 100,000 residents.
Iowa reported 309,277 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 21, while 4,445 Iowans have died of coronavirus since March 2020. The state reported 71 nursing home outbreaks as of Jan. 21 and 1,829 deaths of nursing home residents since the pandemic began.
Reynolds said vaccine rollout to Iowa nursing homes has been under the Trump administration’s federal program and was slower than had been anticipated.
When asked why elected officials were added to the priority list for the next phase of vaccines, Reynolds cited “continuity of government.”