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Governor Reynolds promises to find solutions for slow vaccine rollout in Iowa

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JOHNSTON, Iowa (WHO13) — Governor Kim Reynolds said Thursday that the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine across the state has not been as “fast or easy as we’d like it to be” and that her administration is working to understand why.

Iowa currently ranks 47th in the nation for doses of vaccine allocated to residents per capita. Iowa ranks 32nd among the 50 states in population. At her semi-weekly news conference on Thursday, Governor Reynolds said she continues to press the federal government for answers, and promised to question General Gustave Perna, COO of the ‘Operation Warp Speed’ federal COVID-19 initiative, in person on the phone about the allocation this week.

Governor Reynolds says the state is also experiencing issues with distributing the doses that do arrive in the state, placing blame on local health departments. Reynolds says her staff and the Iowa Department of Public Health have been reaching out to health departments across the state this week to review their distribution plans and find out what is slowing them down. The Governor praised the Polk County Public Health Department for its distribution plan. She says the county is using up nearly 100% of its weekly doses before the next shipment arrives.

Reynolds says one of the most frequent complaints she has heard about the vaccination distribution is the lack of available appointments. She reminded Iowans on Thursday that the limited supply of vaccine from the federal government will mean an equally limited number of available appointments.

Iowans have a number of ways to find the vaccine when available, including checking with local health departments, participating pharmacies or with their personal doctors for appointments. The state itself has no centralized scheduling system, but the Governor says her office is working on a solution. She announced Thursday that the state is submitting a ‘request for proposal’ (or RFP) for the creation of a web tool to serve as a master vaccine information site. The Governor says the state wants “to quickly stand up a centralized vaccine registration and referral system. Ideally it would create a one stop shop where Iowans can provide their information and be matched with a vaccine provider near them.”

Governor Reynolds says her administration is working with the Area Agency on Aging to provide a new resource to Iowans who don’t have internet access. She says details will be released on that plan on Friday.

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