Skip to Content

“The vaccine must be available to all Americans.” Iowa congresswomen call for improved vaccine distribution in rural areas

Cindy Axne(D)_3rd congressional district
Iowa District 3 Representative Cindy Axne
Ashley Hinson(R)_1st congressional district
Iowa District 1 Representative Ashley Hinson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) --In a letter to federal health leaders, Iowa Representatives Ashley Hinson and Cindy Axne expressed concern over delays in getting the vaccine to Iowa's rural areas.

READ THE FULL LETTER HERE OR BELOW.

We recognize that the task ahead of us to vaccinate the majority of the American population is one of the largest public health initiatives this country has ever undertaken. That is why we are highlighting the disparities within rural communities to you now so we can quickly remedy this situation as the rollout of the vaccine progresses. 

Congressional Letter by Iowa Rep. Hinson, Rep. Axne

The letter aims to underscore the importance of distributing the vaccine equitably and any plans should take into account the differences between population areas.

"What works for urban areas often does not work for our rural communities; the approach needs to be adjusted to be effective. We must rely on a community-based effort and out-of-the-box thinking to ensure our rural citizens have access," the letter reads.

The congresswomen offered their congressional support to aide in the endeavor to both the Dept. of Health and Human Services as well as the Center for Disease Control.

As of Monday morning, CDC data shows 208,875 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been distributed to Iowa. Iowa's distribution rate per 100,000 is similar to that of its neighbors, currently at 6,620 per 100K. Only a handful of states report better distribution rates. More than 98 thousand Iowans have gotten the initial dose of the vaccine.

Dear Secretary Azar and Dr. Redfield:

We write to express our concern that rural communities are falling behind in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. To end the devastation caused by this pandemic, the vaccine must be available to all Americans. As Members of Congress representing a rural state and its many rural communities, we impress upon you the importance of ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine in rural areas across the country. 

We are deeply proud of the American innovation on display in the development and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. We recognize that the task ahead of us to vaccinate the majority of the American population is one of the largest public health initiatives this country has ever undertaken. That is why we are highlighting the disparities within rural communities to you now so we can quickly remedy this situation as the rollout of the vaccine progresses. 

As part of the rollout, the Administration is relying upon large health systems located primarily in large, urban areas. While this ensures the vaccine reaches a high number of people, the concentration is on urban health care workers and residents. Unfortunately, this model has created delays and hurdles to supplying the vaccine in the rural communities we represent – communities that are often home to America’s most vulnerable patients.

We do not need to tell you that the coronavirus is spreading at alarming rates in rural areas of America. In December 2020, 25 counties with the highest rates of reported cases per capita had populations of fewer than 50,000 people; 18 had fewer than 10,000. We recognize the many difficulties in ensuring safe vaccine distribution in rural areas, including ensuring cold storage, transportation, and limited health care professionals. Please let us know how we can provide congressional support in addressing and solving these challenges. What works for urban areas often does not work for our rural communities; the approach needs to be adjusted to be effective. We must rely on a community-based effort and out-of-the-box thinking to ensure our rural citizens have access. Our local grocery stores, pharmacists, churches, small businesses, and residents will gladly rise to this challenge if only they are called upon.

Congressional Letter by Iowa Rep. Hinson, Rep. Axne
Author Profile Photo

Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

Skip to content