BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds took a Johnson & Johnson vaccine during her weekly press conference Wednesday.
At the regular conference held at the Iowa PBS station in Des Moines, Reynolds took the vaccine, along with her husband, to show the safety of the newly FDA authorized vaccine.
Reynolds said information about the lack of testing and safety of the new vaccine is unjustified and brought in a University of Iowa doctor to drive the point home.
“Unfortunately some critics are suggesting Johnson & Johnson is inferior to Pfizer and Moderna,” Reynolds said.
“That’s misleading and, frankly, irresponsible when it’s undergone the same rigorous trial for efficacy. Especially at a time when vaccination is paramount to recovery and our supply is limited.”
A reporter asked Reynolds how she was feeling about 10 minutes following the injection.
“I feel fine. Hardly felt it and I’m happy to have received it.”
Reynolds said Iowa received just over 25,000 Johnson & Johnson doses last week and the state will be allocating those who live and work in congregate settings to include the state’s food processing centers.
She said the state has more than 51 companies in 17 counties that will get the vaccines and that will take about five weeks at current supply projections to get everyone the single-dose vaccine.
In another development, Reynolds announced the Iowa 211 Call Center is bringing on 75 “navigators” to help get the 30% of the state’s remaining population 65 and older scheduled for vaccinations.
Reynolds said at least 70% of the state’s population of 65 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, but Iowa 211 is geared to help finishing up vaccinating that portion of Iowa’s population.
The center won’t be starting that effort until Tuesday, but Reynolds said seniors who haven’t been able to get a vaccine scheduled can call and the navigators will work to get them scheduled at the state’s Hy-Vees.
Seniors will need to provide their full name, date of birth, phone number and email address, if they have one, to get the vaccinations scheduled. No other information will be required.
Once scheduled, seniors should arrive 10 minutes early for the vaccination and bring their insurance or medicare cards. There will be no charge to the individual for the vaccination.
Federal officials have indicated Johnson & Johnson has partnered with Merck & Co., who failed to design a vaccination, to increase production of the drug to up to 6 million doses a week across the nation.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday night that with production increase, every single American should be vaccinated before the end of May.
Reynolds called the Johnson & Johnson development a “game changer”.
“Single dose vaccines means twice as many people can be fully dosed in a fraction of the time,” she said.
The state’s 7-day positivity rate is currently 4.2% and the 14-day rate is 4.1%.
Lee County is currently at a 3% rate for the past seven days with no new cases in Tuesday’s 24-hour report. Four new cases were reported today.
Of the 2.7 million tests administered to date in Iowa, 11.2% have returned positive.
As of Tuesday, 191 Iowans are hospitalized with a primary or secondary COVID-19 diagnosis, down from a high of 1,516 on November 18, 2020.
To date 5,501 Iowans have died due to COVID-related illnesses.