Now 13 months into the pandemic, we have moved into a new phase: vaccinations for all adults.
The call to action is monumental.
In February, this Editorial Board echoed Iowans’ frustration with the lack of a system in place to register folks for vaccinations. In March, as counties, health care providers and pharmacies each orchestrated their own sign-up mechanisms, we urged patience for those eager to receive the vaccine.
Now, the mind-set for moving forward must be to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
The recent “pause” in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination shouldn’t mean a slowdown in the full-court press toward herd immunity. The mantra from early on in the pandemic remains a critical directive: Listen to the scientists.
Iowa Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia said Wednesday that her biggest fear about the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is that it will strengthen the resolve of skeptics inclined to skip getting any vaccination.
“Some people are going to use it as an excuse to say, ‘See, they didn’t research these vaccines enough.’ These vaccines are the result of 20 years of research,” Garcia said.
Pat Winokur, executive dean of University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, said in fact that COVID-19 vaccines were tested on groups of 30,000 to 40,000 people — 10 times more than typical trials. That six women developed serious blood clots she called “a one-in-a-million-type of event.”
Gov. Kim Reynolds pointed out that the six known cases represent a tiny fraction of the roughly 7 million people who have received the J&J vaccine. Both Reynolds and Garcia received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last month. Reynolds, Garcia and Winokur still all strongly urge everyone to get vaccinated.
Getting an appointment shouldn’t be an issue. Nearly every day, area clinics are offering openings for shots. The rush has clearly ebbed.
Counties across Iowa are asked to decline their weekly share of the vaccine distributed by the state if officials don’t anticipate being able to use it all. Some 21 Iowa counties declined their vaccine allocation for this past week — including Jackson County. (Counties can accept allotments in subsequent weeks.)
Tri-state-area residents — and all Americans — should be encouraging anyone and everyone they can to get the shot. Area counties are hovering around the 25% to 30% fully vaccinated mark. That’s not even halfway to the herd immunity threshold of 70%, as set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tens of thousands more tri-state-area residents will need to get vaccinated to achieve such a status.
If you’ve been patiently waiting, wait no more. Listen to the scientists. Listen to elected officials. For yourself, your family, your workplace, your community, get the vaccine and let’s get this pandemic behind us.