DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds says her administration is working with entities like colleges and community events to encourage Iowans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Demand for the vaccine has slowed significantly over the past two weeks. Last week, 80 of the state’s 99 counties declined some or all of their new vaccine allotment because they did not need all of the previous week’s supply.
One-third of Iowa’s population is vaccinated from COVID-19, the 15th-highest rate in the nation, according to a Washington Post tracker that uses federal data.
Reynolds said her administration has been talking to colleges about ways to convince young people to get the vaccine, and to organizers of community events like farmers markets to create more ways for Iowans to get the vaccine.
“We’re just looking for unique ways that we can go to where Iowans are gathering and have a mobile clinic there,” Reynolds said. “They’ll be able to receive a vaccine, but it’s also an opportunity to be educated, get some information if they have any questions. It will just be an all of the above resource.”
Reynolds noted Iowa is not alone in facing a measure of vaccine hesitancy. The national average for states’ weekly change in administered vaccine doses is a reduction of 10%, according to the Washington Post tracker.
West Virginia announced plans to use federal COVID-19 relief funding to offer a $100 savings bond to each resident 16 to 35 years old who receives the vaccine.
Reynolds said her staff has discussed with colleges ways to encourage young Iowans to receive the vaccine. The University of Iowa, for example, is offering to any students who get vaccinated a $10 gift card to the Iowa City Downtown District.
“We’ll always be looking at different ways that we can really tie in and encourage people to get that done,” said Reynolds, who was vaccinated in early March during a news conference.
Reynolds said she hopes 65% to 75% of Iowans ultimately receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The federal CDC and World Health Organization say experts are still learning what percentage of people need to be vaccinated before most people are protected. That threshold varies by disease, according to the WHO, which lists as an example 80% for polio.
“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to drive those numbers,” Reynolds said. “We’re going to continue to do everything (we) can to encourage people to get vaccinated. We’re going to be anywhere and everywhere.”