Virus Outbreak Vaccine Hesitancy

In this March 3 file photo, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. On Wednesday, Reynolds said she would take legislative or executive action to prevent vaccine passports.

DES MOINES — They don’t yet exist, but Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday said she intends to find a way to ban them.

So-called vaccine passports are one of the ideas being circulated as more and more are inoculated with one of three vaccines offered under emergency use authorizations. They would offer digital proof to verify whether an American has been vaccinated for the coronavirus. They’re proposed as a way for businesses and entities to convince Americans other patrons or attendees have been vaccinated.

Reynolds said she encourages Iowans to get vaccinated, saying Wednesday she believes in the efficacy of the vaccine options. But she continued on a familiar tone, saying getting vaccinated is a personal choice but that she trusts Iowans “to do the right thing.”

“I strongly oppose vaccine passports,” Reynolds said. “And I believe that we must take a stand as a state against them, which I intend to do either through legislation or executive action.”

Reynolds said she feels vaccine passports, or similar proposal, would create a two-tiered society. She also had concerns with “big government” and how they would use this data.

“I think there’s all kinds of questions that are really raised with moving in that direction — privacy implications, HIPAA, First and Fourth Amendment rights, Americans with Disabilities [Act],” Reynolds said. “I think what you’re doing when you move forward with something like that is you’re creating a two-tiered society, and it’s you either engage or you’re marginalized.”

This week, vaccines were opened up to all Iowa citizens above the age of 16 years old, a move many states are making. President Joe Biden has said by April 19 states must open up eligibility to all currently authorized to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

Those between the ages of 16 and 18 are only able to take the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, as it was the only one authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for those above 16. The other two vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, were authorized for those above the age of 18.

As of Thursday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported that about 21.9% of Iowa’s population has received all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson shot only requires one dose, while Moderna and Pfizer each require two doses to be most effective.

Another 11.8% of Iowans have received their first of two required doses.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the state distributed 15,646 more doses to Iowans.

Data from the White House COVID-19 Team show the rate of new coronavirus cases in Iowa was up 16% last week, and the rate of new deaths was up 19%.

The report, released Tuesday that contained data for the week ending April 2, classified Iowa as having a high community transmission rate of the virus. Of the state’s 99 counties, all but one was classified as at least a moderate transmission rate while 35 counties rated a substantial rate of transmission of 35 rated high.

Marion and Mahaska counties were both classified as having moderate transmission.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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