Thursday, March 11, 2021

Iowa vaccination system relies on Iowans to be truthful

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — State officials acknowledged Wednesday they would rely on an honor system with no validation required when someone claims to qualify for a shot due to a health issue.

Iowa is opening up vaccinations to include everyone between age 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions. The state is allowing adults to get vaccinated if they have any one of several conditions the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention considers higher risk for severe illness if they get infected. The list includes cancer, heart conditions, lung disease, pregnancy, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Smokers also qualify.

Iowa Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia acknowledged Wednesday the system is relying largely on Iowans being honest about their health conditions when scheduling a vaccine.

Gov. Kim Reynolds was asked Wednesday why the state doesn’t allow all adults to get vaccinated since the current system has no way to confirm whether someone has a qualifying health issue, making it possible for anyone willing to be untruthful to get a shot.

The state’s use of an honor system came as officials said in response to an inquiry from The Associated Press that they had suspended activities of the Infectious Disease Advisory Council. The group of appointed medical professionals and advisers was tasked with deciding what groups would be given priority, but it hasn’t met since January 25th.

Iowa has given 969,877 doses of vaccine as of Wednesday afternoon and will have vaccinated 1 million by the end of this week. Reynolds said 27% of the population had a shot as of Tuesday, which places Iowa 10th in the nation. Iowa is 27th in the country for people fully immunized with two doses of vaccine, at about 13% of the population.

Reynolds says the federal government expects a significant increase in vaccine production by late March or early April, which will allow the state to consider expanding those who qualify for a vaccination.

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