Posted on

State expands vaccine eligibility to those under age 65 with health risks

By Bob Steenson,

Effective Monday, March 8, Iowa vaccine providers can officially begin vaccinating additional priority populations under the age of 65, the state announced late Thursday.

The new eligibility is for people age 64 and younger with medical conditions that are or may be an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDHP) said.

Floyd County Supervisor Linda Tjaden, who has been working with Floyd County Public Health on county vaccine distribution, said Thursday evening that there is a meeting scheduled with IDHP at noon today (Friday).

“Sure we will hear more on this,” she said.

The announcement refers people to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for a list of included health conditions. That list of conditions that do lead to increased health risks with COVID-19 includes:

  • Cancer.
  • Chronic kidney disease.
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
  • Down syndrome.
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies.
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant.
  • Obesity (body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or greater).
  • Severe obesity (BMI of 40 kg/m2 or greater).
  • Pregnancy.
  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Smoking.
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The CDC website said people with these conditions may be at increased risk of complications from COVID-19:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe).
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain).
  • Cystic fibrosis.
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure.
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines.
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia.
  • Liver disease.
  • Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2).
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues).
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder).
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus.

IDHP said, “This announcement comes as several Iowa counties have reported they are nearing completion for vaccinating previous priority population groups. Some counties and vaccine providers will remain focused on previous priority populations until they are closer to completion.”

Floyd County Public Health last week announced it was opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people with disabilities and their in-home caregivers

Because vaccine production has not fully met the demand for vaccine, Iowans will need to remain patient as vaccine production increases, the IDHP statement said.

“The White House announced this week that by the end of May, there will be enough vaccine for anyone over the age of 16 who chooses to receive one,” IDPH said.

Starting March 9, the state’s 211 Call Center will be able to assist Iowans age 65 and older who need assistance scheduling an appointment and don’t have access to the technology to do so, the statement said.

“It’s critical to continue practicing the mitigation measures that can slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” IDPH said.

“Vaccinated Iowans should continue these precautions as we are still learning whether getting a vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself,” it added.

Mitigation measures include wearing a mask or face covering, practicing social distancing with those outside your household; cleaning your hands frequently with soap and water, staying home if you feel sick, getting tested if you are exposed to or have symptoms of COVID-19, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible.

Social Share