Yesterday the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) released new guidelines for sharing COVID-19 vaccine with members of priority populations in Phase 1B of their vaccination program.

IDAC has recommended the focus for Phase 1B is on those individuals who are age 75 or older, as well as those in other high risk populations. That would include Iowans who are at the highest risk for exposure to COVID-19, or high risk for illness as the result of a COVID-19 infection. Examples include individuals with disabilities living in home settings, correctional facilities, and other congregate settings, along with meatpacking plant workers.

“I am grateful for the incredible work of the Infectious Disease Advisory Council (IDAC). The work of this group is critical to ensuring Iowa’s most vulnerable are protected and have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. In a situation where there is not a playbook to follow, the thoughtful dialog and recommendations reflect their deep commitment to equity and making the right decisions in the best interest of all Iowans,” said Kelly Garcia, IDPH interim Director.

Garcia accepted the IDAC recommendations in full, with two additions. She also included inspectors responsible for health, life and safety as well as government officials, including staff, to ensure the continuity of government, engaged in state business at the Iowa Capital during the legislative session.

The recommendations will require 300,000 to 400,000 doses of COVID-19 to complete Phase 1A statewide. The state has been allocated approximately 226,000 doses to date. Vaccination of Phase 1B populations will begin no later than Feb. 1, will take several weeks to complete, and the timeline is subject to change.

The IDPH is monitoring allocation data and utilization rates as well as working with health care providers to identify challenges with administration or uptake.

More details on where Phase 1B populations will receive their vaccines will be released soon, many through employer-based clinics.

There are also 1,700 enrolled vaccine providers in the state, many are pharmacies and clinical offices that are equipped to handle screening for vaccination efforts. County health departments may partner with these providers to ensure their residents have access to the vaccine when it becomes available.

Also, in addition, to the above recommendations, IDAC strongly supports that no individual shall be restricted from obtaining vaccine based on residency or citizenship as noted in the memo from IDPH.

The IDPH has recently learned from the federal government of significant increased availability of the vaccine, looking at each state’s ability to distribute the supply quickly, along with the number of residents over the age 65, or under age 65 with significant health conditions.

“Once we have reasonable confidence that supply meets the demands of this broader eligibility criteria, we will activate the broader distribution criteria. From the very beginning from this distribution effort, it has been our goal to reach all Iowans,” officials said.

In the meantime, while vaccine is still scarce, Iowans are urged to remember to practice the recommended virus mitigation efforts:

Wear a mask or face covering

Practice social distancing when with individuals outside your household

Clean your hands frequently with soap and water

Stay home if you are feeling sick

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