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COVID vaccines cut to five Iowa counties lagging in giving shots

DES MOINES — A handful of Iowa counties will not received doses of the Covid vaccine this week. Iowa Department of Public Health acting director Kelly Garcia said the goal is for counties to get at least 80% of weekly doses out the door — and five counties are below that threshold.

“We’re going to give them a little bit of a break to catch up,” Garcia said this morning. “That is really a measure not to be punitive to those five counties. We know how hard everyone is working, but it really is to make sure that we’re then giving that chance to those counties that are moving through their vaccine allocation, that we’re getting it out to the Iowans who need it.”

Garcia made her comments during a telephone town hall with AARP members. She did not name the five counties.

“It won’t be a forever withhold,” Garcia said. “The following week they’ll get their allocation back if they reach that 80% threshold.”

Many of the questions AARP members asked Garcia were about scheduling vaccinations.

“Every person I call and every person I talk to says we have to have a computer or we won’t get the vaccine and I don’t know what to do,” said a woman who gave her name as Jane. “My husband and I are in our 80s and we both are not in good health we need the vaccine, but how do we get it?” Jane said.

Garcia replied: “First of all, we absolutely know this is a challenge and we’ve got a number of things in place that we think, Jane, are going to really address these concerns.”

Iowans over the age of 65 can call the Area Agency on Aging for assistance. Garcia indicated the HyVee stores with Covid vaccine supplies have people on site who can help with registering for a shot. The governor announced this week that a statewide call center is being set up. Until then, Garcia said Iowans can call 211 for information.

Some AARP members told Garcia the online system Walgreens is using to register people for Covid vaccinations is crashing and Garcia promised to raise that issue with Walgreens executives.

The core issue, Garcia said, is there’s high demand for a limited supply of doses.

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