Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has urged residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as more than 40% of the state's counties are seeing a decrease in demand for doses.
Out of Iowa's 99 counties, 43 have declined some or all of their vaccine allotment for next week "so that supply doesn't exceed the current demand," Reynolds said Wednesday during a press briefing.
The declined doses will be reallocated to more populous counties and metro areas where demand is still high, the governor added.
"But even in larger communities clinics are now filling up over the course of a couple of days rather than just a few hours," she said. "Some pharmacies are seeing appointments remain still open. This shift isn't ... unique to Iowa. Vaccine hesitancy is beginning to become a real factor across the country."
Reynolds posited that Iowans may be "reconsidering" whether to get vaccinated after the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for a pause last week on the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine after rare incidents of a blood clot disorder following vaccination.
Serious reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, like anaphylaxis, are very rare, the CDC reported.
Younger demographics may also be delaying vaccination, she said. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 25% of those age 18 to 29 are opting to "wait and see," compared with 17% overall. To help combat that, the state has been focusing on vaccinating college students before they return home, she said.
The governor downplayed the suggestion from a reporter that there also may be political opposition to getting vaccinated. A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll conducted last month found that 41% of Iowa Republicans don't plan to get vaccinated, compared with 8% of Democrats and 30% of independents.
"I laid out some of the dynamics in the age bracket -- where we're seeing the largest hesitancy," she said. "We need to really do a deep dive and take a look at what's behind it, what can we do to help ensure Iowans that they are safe and this is the right thing to do."
Just over 37% of Iowans ages 18 and up are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, ranking it among the top 15 states.
"We are making great progress, but we can always do better, and in this case we absolutely should," the Republican governor said. "I want to appeal to everyone who's hesitating: If you're opting to wait and see, what are you waiting for? If you've been a hard 'no' from the start, what's your reason? And if you can't answer those questions, maybe, we hope that you take the time to reconsider."
As part of that appeal, Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Benjamin Corell shared his experience battling COVID-19 in November, when he was hospitalized for a week due to the virus.
"I understand that COVID-19 affects people differently," he said during the briefing. "My case, it was very real, very serious, nothing to mess with."
Five months after his illness, he said he still has shortness of breath and lung-capacity issues, and he would consider himself a COVID-19 long-hauler. He said he completed his second dose of the Moderna vaccine in March.
Corell called on hesitant Iowans, as well as fellow members of the Iowa National Guard, where he said currently one-half of members have not yet been vaccinated, to get the shots.
"It's going to take all of us working together to defeat this pandemic," he said. "For those of you sitting on the fence, wondering about getting vaccinated, do it. It's the right thing to do for you, your family, your neighbors and our communities."
What to know about the coronavirus:
- How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
- What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
- Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
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