(Des Moines) -- State officials have announced their plan for distributing an expected COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.
Two vaccines -- one from Pfizer and one from Moderna -- are expected to receive FDA approval in the coming days. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says the state is scheduled to recieve 26,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccines around December 13th, with the first round of Moderna vaccines arriving around December 20th. In total, Iowa is slated to receive 172,000 doses of vaccine before the end of the year. Reynolds says the state's distribution plan starts with health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
"Iowa will distribute a portion of the allocation to hospitals for their workforce and to our long-term care facilities," said Reynolds. "The federal government has developed a long-term care pharmacy partnership. That is a program that leverages national pharmacies to help administer the vaccine in long-term care facilities. This will allow us to quickly and efficiently vaccinate our most vulnerable population first in communities across the states."
The federal government has partnered with CVS, Walgreens and Community Pharmacy to provide distribution and personnel to help with vaccinations. Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia says as more vaccine is made available to the state, it will be opened up to more of the population.
"As more COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, additional populations will be added and more people will be able to receive the vaccine," said Garcia. "We anticipate that by mid-2021 there should be enough vaccine available for anyone who wants to receive it."
DHS is compiling a team of experts that will be known as the Infectious Disease Advisory Council to help provide additional guidance on vaccine distribution.
“The reason for this is to minimize health inequities based on geography, poverty and other social determinants,” said Garcia. “This group will also provide input as additional vaccines become available and will help us with our distribution of therapeutics.”
Iowa's initial shipments of vaccines will be positioned around the state at sites that can accomodate cold storage. The Pfizer vaccine requires storage temperatures of 70 degrees below zero Celsius, while the Moderna vaccine has to be stored at minus-20 degrees Celsius. Garcia says the location of the vaccines will remain secret.
"For these future updates, transparency is key," said Garcia. "We want Iowans to know when you and your loved ones can expect access to the vaccine. However, I want to level set some expectations around information shared. We will not post locations of vaccine positioning or other critical infrastructure detail, to ensure the safe distribution of this limited resource. We're working with Department of Public Safety and their federal partners on that security plan."
As vaccinations begin, Garcia cautions Iowans to maintain vigilence with COVID-19 prevention measures.
"So while this is long-awaited good news, I want to underscore that life will not immediately be back to normal,” said Garcia. “Please continue all the necessary mitigation efforts. Please wear a mask, minimize or eliminate gatherings. We have winter months ahead and need to ensure our health care workers remain able to provide the highest level of care to Iowans.”
Reynolds says COVID-19 mitigation efforts must continue as the state's health care system continues to feel the strain from increasing COVID-19 cases.
“It will take a little more time before the vaccines are widely available, so in the meantime we can’t let up on our efforts to mitigate the virus,” said Reynolds. “We’re too close now to have to go through another surge, so please continue to do your part to prevent that from happening and to protect yourself and others as well.”
Each state is required to complete a vaccine distribution plan working with the CDC. The Advisory Committee of Immunizations Practices issued recommendations to states on which populations should receive the initial round of vaccines. The full vaccine distribution plan for Iowa can be viewed below.