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A WEEK WITHOUT VACCINE? North Iowa counties mistakenly punished for seemingly slower vaccine rollout

Downtown New Hampton Iowa, county seat of Chickasaw County

NEW HAMPTON, Iowa (FOX 47) -- In an effort to speed up the vaccination process, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds gave an ultimatum to counties. They must report an 80 percent vaccine administration rate or miss out on the following week's supply.

This week, five Iowa counties were identified as lagging behind. As it turns out, two of those counties were not behind and instead were missing out on much needed vaccine shipments.

"In our county, they can call in to our office and we add their name to a list. As we have vaccine available, we will set up clinics and call the individuals off the list. We want to keep it as fair as possible," explains Lisa Welter, Chickasaw County Public Health director.

The process of vaccinating the county of around 12,000 people was going smoothly until the state found that Chickasaw was among five counties with under an 80 percent vaccination rate.

"Actually that was incorrect. I dealt with the governor's office all weekend," Welter said. "I've been speaking and working with them. They did find that it was a technical error. We did in fact reach our 80 percent."

Chickasaw County's vaccine administration rate was actually 84 percent, four percent above the state's threshold.

"I want to very clear that it was not meant to be punitive. Instead, it was intended to allow local public health officials a week to administer the remaining supply before their next shipment applied," Gov. Reynolds said earlier in the week.

However, there were less administered vaccine doses in Chickasaw County than the state of Iowa believed. In an attempt to fix the error, some of the week's vaccine that did not arrive will be added on to the upcoming weeks supply of doses.

"They would also be sending us 100 doses for that. With all the weather down south, they did say there was a delay with vaccine shipment. I don't know when that will arrive," Welter said.

Over in Garner in Hancock County, something similar happened.

"Like I said, just very concerning," Welter said. "I'm glad I have a contact at the governor's office now that I can work closely with. Hopefully we can move forward and not have this happen again."

The issue in Hancock County has also been resolved. After realizing the county was not lagging behind in vaccinating its 1B population, the state agreed to send the week's doses.

Many counties across Iowa however are dealing with the weather delays slowing vaccine shipments.

Alex Tejada

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