JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — As interest in the coronavirus vaccine continues to lag, Iowa public health officials are trying to make it easier to get a shot.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday that a bus will be set up this week in the parking lot of the Iowa Cubs baseball park in Des Moines for the first two days of games this season, and a similar pop-up vaccination station is planned at the Des Moines Farmers Market this weekend.
The state also now allows people who have had their first shot to take their vaccination card to any pharmacy or health care provider to get the second dose. Previously, people were advised to return to the same location for the second dose.
Reynolds said 66,500 Iowans have had their first dose and are eligible for a second but haven’t gotten it.
“I think the message that we want to relay here is even if you’re overdue for the second dose don’t worry about that. It’s more important that you get it late than not get it at all,” she said.
The more proactive approach comes as the state rejected 75,000 of the 110,000 doses offered this week by the federal government. Reynolds said 54 counties declined all their allocation while 34 turned down a portion and 11 accepted the full allotment.
“Demand for vaccine in Iowa and nationwide is waning,” Reynolds said.
She said the state is trying to figure out why people are declining vaccinations, saying that those remaining unvaccinated “want to return back to normal but there has to be some incentives for getting the vaccine to actually make that happen.” She said mixed messaging about whether one can quit wearing a mask after vaccination is partly to blame.
For next week, the federal government has allocated 87,400 doses to Iowa. Counties are now reporting in to the Iowa Department of Public health so the demand for doses isn’t year clear, said IDPH Director Kelly Garcia.
Iowa has fully vaccinated 1.1 million people, or 36.1% of the population, ranking the state 13th in the nation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state reported 172 additional confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday and one additional death for a total of 5,960 deaths since the pandemic began.