Des Moines, IA – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Iowa will begin receiving shipments of Pfizer doses the week of December 13, based on population size and target populations. Shipments will continue to arrive weekly throughout Iowa. Following the guidance issued by the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Iowa’s initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program (Phase 1a) will be offered to:
- Healthcare personnel (HCP) and,
- Residents of long-term care facilities (LTCs)
IDPH has worked alongside local public health departments and healthcare facilities to allocate a portion of Iowa’s first Pfizer vaccine shipments to target healthcare workers in facilities who are at highest risk for exposure to the virus.
Iowa has reserved the remaining Pfizer vaccine for the National Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care. This program was established to meet the challenge of vaccinating the long-term care population and is scheduled to begin the week of December 28. Walgreens, CVS and Community Pharmacy chains will administer the program in Iowa. As part of this program, which is free of charge to facilities, pharmacies will:
- Schedule and coordinate on-site clinic date(s) directly with each facility.
- Coordinate a series of visits to administer both doses of vaccine and vaccinate any new residents and staff.
- Order vaccines and associated supplies (e.g., syringes, needles, personal protective equipment).
To assist in prioritizing critical work force vaccination needs, IDPH has convened a team of appointed external and internal subject matter experts, known collectively as the Infectious Disease Advisory Council (IDAC). This council will assist the IDPH Director and Medical Director in developing guidance for the prioritization of populations early in the vaccination response when vaccine supply is limited, as outlined in the State of Iowa COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy and summarized in our Vaccine Brief. IDAC brings together clinical and ethical expertise from across the state, including university leadership, infectious disease specialists, local public health agencies, key provider associations that represent vulnerable populations, as well as IDPH and other state agency representatives.
IDPH will follow guidance as it becomes available from the ACIP and IDAC to determine additional priority populations as vaccine supply availability increases. There are currently nearly 1,500 providers signed up to administer the vaccine in Iowa with approximately 20-40 new applications submitted each day.
“While this is a positive step forward, it will take time until the vaccine is widely available. Until then, we must continue to mitigate the virus by practicing public health measures so we can protect the most vulnerable and preserve hospital resources, while keeping our economy open and our kids in school,” said Governor Kim Reynolds in a statement.
“While we anticipated this approval, it is nonetheless great news for Iowans. The vaccine will allow us to move forward in our fight against COVID-19. I am incredibly grateful to our team and our partners across the state who have spent countless hours planning for the deployment of this vaccine,” said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Interim Director Kelly Garcia.
COVID-19 vaccines will continue to increase in supply, ensuring that by mid-2021, anyone who wants to receive the vaccine will have the opportunity to do so. IDPH has established a healthcare provider COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center. To reach the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center, call 1-800-831-6293, Option 1.