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What Iowa turning down vaccines means for Black Hawk County’s supply

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BLACK HAWK COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) -- Iowa recently turned down 71-percent of vaccines set to be allocated to the state for the upcoming week.

So, what does that mean for our supply here in Black Hawk County?

As of today, 53,000 residents have completed their vaccine doses, and an average 3,750 doses are administered on a weekly basis in Black Hawk County. But that means about 46 percent of residents still need to be vaccinated.

Vaccine hesitancy is the main reason why almost half of the county still isn't fully vaccinated, and it's causing supply to surpass demand. It was about a month ago, all Iowans over the age of 16 became eligible to get the vaccine. Instead of seeing a spike, the county is seeing a decrease. Health experts want to understand - why the hesitancy?

"Right now, we have a huge amount of vaccines here in black hawk county, and so I don't foresee us accepting our allocations for this week because we need to get the ones that we already have into arms," said Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye, PhD, MPH, Public Heath Director of Black Hawk County's Public Health Department.

Black Hawk County receives over 2,000 Pfizer and 200 Moderna vaccines each week. But with the recent decrease in walk-ins and appointments, vaccine supply has no surpassed demand.

"So that's 53.8% of our 18 and older that have been vaccinated, so we have about 46.2% of our remaining population that need to be vaccinated," Dr. Egbuonye said.

Interesting note, the health department says 18-25 years of age group have the largest deficit in vaccine completions.

According to Dr. Egbuonye, vaccine hesitancy is playing the biggest role in why almost half off county residents have not been vaccinated. "And so what we're working on is continued education so that people do know that the vaccine is safe and should get vaccinated."

Recently, Governor Kim Reynolds said that clinics could start happening at farmers markets. Black Hawk County is on board, and would set up kiosks to administer the shots themselves.

"So we're excited about looking at those different initiatives, and see how that will help improves our vaccination rates," Dr. Egbuonye said.

In the meantime, the county is sharing vaccines on the verge of expiring with other counties.

"It's disheartening. This is where we're going to be patient and ask people that I do believe want this to end, and in order for this to end, we have to continue to vaccinate our community," Dr. Egbuonye said.

Lastly, The Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed there's a new variant of concern here in Iowa called, 'The India Variant." It joins the list of variants detected in Iowa among the Brazil, U.K., and South Africa variant.

Dr. Egbuonye says the current Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen vaccines will protect people against all the variants.

To find and schedule a vaccine appointment in Black Hawk County, CLICK HERE.

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Dani Miskell

Weekend Anchor & Reporter

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