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Governor says online map will help Iowans schedule COVID shots

JOHNSTON — An interactive map will be added to the state website with information about Covid-19, to show Iowans waiting to be vaccinated where they can schedule a shot.

“Iowans are asking many questions about the vaccination process,” Governor Kim Reynolds said during a news conference Wednesday, “but nothing is more important to them about knowing when enough vaccine will be available and how they’ll be able to get it.”

The governor indicated the map will be available later this week.

“So you will click on a county where you live or work and provider locations will be listed,” Reynolds said. “Then you’ll be able to simply click to connect to their website and schedule an appointment to get more information.”

State officials say they are considering ways to help Iowans who don’t have internet access or the skills to navigate the online system. The state’s allocation of first doses of vaccine is expected to increase by 6300 doses next week — for a total of nearly 26,000 doses for Iowans outside of nursing homes.

“Even with the 16% increase starting next week, the nation’s current vaccine supply simply cannot keep up with the incredibly high demand and I know that can be frustrating to hear,” Reynolds said. “I know Iowans are very eager to get vaccinated and finally put Covid-19 behind them. That time is coming, but we just need to remain patient.”

By the end of this week, all Iowa nursing home residents and staff who wanted a first dose will have received it.

“Even with the positive news, and that is (positive news), I just still want to remind Iowans that the vaccine supply will still remain limited for quite some time,” Reynolds said. “But despite that challenge, we are making good progress in our efforts to vaccinate as many Iowans as possible.”

Reynolds said any left-over doses from scheduled vaccinations are being reallocated to local community pharmacies, so no doses are wasted.

Ryan Frerichs, the owner of Meyer Pharmacy in Waverly, said he and his staff have been vaccinating first responders and health care providers in Bremer County.

“This required much coordination and scheduling as this vaccine has unique storage requirements and a short, six-hour shelf life from the first shot administered,” Frerichs said during the governor’s news conference. “It took a village here to create the appointments, institute contactless consent forms, vaccine folks safely and allow for a 15-minute post-vaccination observation time.”

Frerichs’ pharmacy will be contacting customers when the vaccine becomes more widely available in Bremer County.

“I’ve seen firsthand how eager Iowans are for the vaccine. I’ve seen people cry tears of joy when they receive it,” Frerichs said. “I can assure you our staff, like many others, will adapt and respond to deliver that vaccine quickly and safely when we receive it.”

Governor Reynolds and the network for rural Iowa pharmacies are urging Iowans to be patient as they wait to find out when they can get vaccinated. In many communities, pharmacies will be the place to get Covid shots, although the governor is planning to send at least six vaccination “strike teams” to manufacturing plants and other sites once more doses become available.

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