Reynolds encourages all eligible Iowans to get vaccinated in the face of wave of vaccine hesitancy

By: 
Travis Fischer

The state hit another vaccination milestone last week, but vaccine hesitancy could slow down progress being made towards herd immunity.

During her regular press conference on Wednesday, April 21, Governor Kim Reynolds announced that more than a third of eligible Iowans are now fully vaccinated, making Iowa the 15th most vaccinated state in the country.

166,336 doses of vaccine were administered last week, bringing the total doses to 2,227,299. This includes 1,129,873 doses of Pfizer, 1,010,093 doses of Moderna, and 87,333 doses of Janssen’s Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Another 100,760 Iowans completed their vaccination series last week. With $896,211 completing their two-dose vaccination and another 87,332 receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, this brings the total number of vaccinated Iowans to 983,543.

However, the rate of newly vaccinated Iowans may begin to slow, as fewer people are signing up to receive the vaccine.

When the first vaccines were made available, demand vastly outweighed the available supply, creating a struggle to determine who got vaccinated first. Now, public health officials are facing the inverse situation. Having already vaccinated those eager to be early adopters, there are fewer Iowans in a rush to get the vaccine, even as supply continues to increase.

Compounding this is the halt on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has sparked hesitancy in many after reports of a rare blood clotting disorder.

“Unfortunately, Iowa, and states across the nation, are seeing a decline in uptake of vaccine since the J&J announcement,” said Reynolds.

As a result of the diminished demand, 43 counties in Iowa, including Winnebago and Kossuth counties, declined some of their allotment of vaccine last week, due to a projected inability to use the stock. Their declined vaccine supplies have since been redirected to more populated areas, where demand is still high.

“While it’s disappointing to see the shift, choosing to accept only the amount of vaccine that can be used is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Reynolds. “This shift isn’t unique to Iowa. Vaccine hesitancy is becoming a real factor across the country.”

Nevertheless, Reynolds continues to encourage Iowans to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, particularly for the younger and older demographics that have shown to be the most hesitant to get the vaccine for various reasons.

A vaccinated population will be even more crucial in stopping the pandemic as two COVID-19 variants have now been detected in the state. Current vaccines offer at least some protection against the variant viruses, which can mean the difference between life and death even if a vaccinated individual catches the virus.

Reynolds recounted a letter sent to her detailing such a case, where the vaccinated individual still ended up catching the virus and was hospitalized as a result. Were it not for the antibodies already in their system, it is possible they may not have survived the illness.

Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Ben Corell also spoke on Wednesday, detailing his own experience in contracting COVID-19 and encouraging all Iowans to do their part to protect their communities by getting vaccinated.

“For those of you sitting on the fence, wondering about getting vaccinated, do it. It’s the right thing to do for you, your family, your neighbors, and our communities,” said Corell. “Join us in being part of the solution to end this.”

With new variants emerging, booster shots to existing vaccines may be necessary over time to keep up immunities.

“The emergence of the new COVID-19 variants is to be expected, and it’s normal with any type of virus,” said Reynolds. “The flu virus is constantly changing, which is why we’re vaccinated for it annually to protect ourselves from the next strain that research suggests may be most common.”

As of Sunday, April 25, there have been 363,043 individuals positive with COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 360,054 total from the week prior by 2,989, another small reduction in new cases from the previous week.

The state has performed a total of 4,750,284 tests on 1,699,357 individuals since the pandemic began, including 3,076,567 PCR tests and 1,673,717 antigen tests. In the last week, the state has processed 46,918 PCR tests and 37,462 antigen tests.

In the last week, 9% of new cases have been among the elderly (age 80+), 15% among older adults (60-79); 28% among middle aged adults (40-59); 43% among young adults (18-39); and 4% among children.

121,811 Iowans have undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicated that they have had the virus. Of that number, 22,997, about 19% have tested positive for antibodies.

Of the 892 individuals tested in the last week, 203 of them (22%) have tested positive.

Hospitalizations fell back under, 200 again, with 179 hospitalized as of Sunday, a decrease of 26 from the week prior. Severe cases have likewise dropped, with 42 people currently in an ICU.

Reported deaths spiked this week, with the state reporting 46 new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 5,927.

In total, approximately 3,463 elderly (58.43%); 2,044 older adults (34.5%), 366 middle aged adults (6.19%), 49 young adults (.83%), and at least one child (.03%) have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

The state has also reported 11 additional deaths from long term care facilities, bringing the total to 2,312.

Only one long term care facility in the state is still reporting an outbreak, with 18 positive cases among the residents and staff.

 

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