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Health departments prepare as COVID-19 vaccine will soon be widely available to Iowans

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(KWWL) - Starting Monday April 5, all adults in Iowa will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Some county health departments say they are excited about the change, but there is still not enough for everyone.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says even though eligibility will be open, it doesn't mean everyone will be able to sign up on Monday.

"We expect to keep getting incremental increases as we move forward and as the state predicts," Dubuque Public Health Specialist Mary Rose Corrigan said.

Dubuque County received a 54% increase in doses for next week. The county getting 3,910 doses.

"We don't have the opportunity to request how many vaccine doses we want. We are simply allocated them from the state," Corrigan said.

That rise in vaccine doses is not the case for every county in the state. Linn County Public Health says they are staying consistent in their allocations of just under 5,000 doses.

"At this time we're happy to get what we receive and we're happy to get that vaccine into arms and protect our community," Linn County Public Health Clinical Branch Supervisor Heather Meador said.

As eligibility opens up, and vaccine production increases, so will the number of doses given to each county. Until that point, county health departments can only plan day by day.

"What we would like to do is hold a large clinic and have people all over coming in to be vaccinated," Meador said, "The way we're going to get back to normal is through that herd immunity, which will be achieved through vaccination."

Black Hawk County will also not receive an increase in vaccine allocation. There have been times when extra shots were available to administer, but the county will continue to receive about 2,350 doses until told otherwise.

Appointment availability is also anticipated to be harder to come by with the eligibility expansion. IDPH says you should contact healthcare providers, pharmacies, or county health departments to try and schedule one.

"We're still asking people to continue to be patient, and that's why when those appointment slots open, please hurry up and sign up for it," Black Hawk County Health Director Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye said.

Health departments can also choose how their vaccines are distributed. Though the majority are going to healthcare providers, other groups are being targeted. For example, Linn and Black Hawk county are reaching out to minority populations to get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The J & J shot is more convenient for those with healthcare limitations since it's a single shot.

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Diego Hernandez

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