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Iowa deploying ‘navigators’ to assist with COVID-19 vaccination appointments

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds answers questions following her update on the state's COVID-19 response...
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds answers questions following her update on the state's COVID-19 response Thursday morning, Feb. 25, 2021.
Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:49 AM CST
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JOHNSTON, Iowa (WOWT) - Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state is preparing updates to its COVID-19 vaccination website and working to help older Iowans navigate the vaccination process.

Reynolds said Thursday that the CDC data reports show Iowa has administered 622,000 vaccine doses to those ages 18 and older who are eligible for vaccination.

Of those eligible, 19.2% have received one dose, 271,000 — nearly 53% — ages 65 and older — have had at least one dose of vaccine, the governor said. In the last week, more than 81,000 Iowans have received a vaccine dose, 64,000 of those were first doses, she said.

Reynolds said the state is launching a new vaccination website Friday at vaccinate.iowa.gov. The site will not provide an opportunity for scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination or for signing up to be notified about when you can schedule a vaccination, but it will connect Iowans to vaccine providers, the governor said.

The state is employing “vaccine navigators” at the 211 call center to assist eligible Iowans with scheduling their vaccinations beginning the week of March 8. At that time, Iowans age 65 and older will be able to call in and get scheduling assistance since that process is online-based.

“Don’t call 211 yet to schedule an appointment,” Reynolds said. “Vaccine nav are working through next week to schedule appointments for those who were added to the wait list that was created by the area agencies on aging.

Ahead of the call center opening, the governor said some vaccine navigators on Friday will begin getting older Iowans scheduled for their COVID-19 vaccinations at a nearby Hy-Vee pharmacy. On those calls, Reynolds the vaccine navigators will ask you to confirm your name, birth date, and county of residence; they will not ask for your health insurance information, or your Social Security or credit card numbers.

“But you will need to provide that insurance information to Hy-Vee when you check in at your appointment,” the governor said. That information will be used to help the pharmacy recoup the administration fees from insurance companies that cover it, she said.

“There’s no out-of-pocket expense for you; vaccines are provided free of charge,” Reynolds said.

At her news conference Thursday morning, Feb. 25, 2021, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds showed a visual...
At her news conference Thursday morning, Feb. 25, 2021, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds showed a visual timeline of projected COVID-19 vaccination availability to segments of the state population.

At her news conference Thursday, the governor also showed a visual timeline of projected COVID-19 vaccination availability to segments of the state population. The timeline shows essential workers in sectors including food processing, ag production, distribution, and manufacturing, as well as disabled Iowans and their direct-care staff eligible for vaccination in mid-March. Remaining priority groups for Iowans ages 16 and older are slated for vaccination in April, according to the chart.

“March is going to be a big month, and I think April probably even bigger,” she said, noting it’s only been two and a half months since COVID-19 vaccinations have been available.

Watch Thursday’s news conference

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