Although the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is here, it can be confusing to understand the distribution process and who determines vaccine eligibility and access. Here's the 4-1-1.
by The Iowa Clinic on Tuesday, February 2, 2021
STEP 1: Each week, vaccines are allocated by the federal government to the states based on two factors:
- The size of their elderly (65+) adult population
- How quickly the states can distribute the vaccine (This factor is based on ongoing reporting by the state to the federal government of how many people have been vaccinated.)
Each state has its own plan for vaccine distribution. The state of Iowa receives only 18,600 doses each week, but this does not mean The Iowa Clinic receives a shipment each week. We do not know how many vaccines we will receive (if any) until determined by the public health officials, as outlined in steps 2 and 3 below.
STEP 2: Those 18,600 doses are distributed to the public health departments in all 99 counties.
STEP 3: The public health departments inform providers in their county that a new shipment of vaccines has arrived.
They do not disclose how many vaccines have been received. Because of limited quantities, the county asks that healthcare providers request only enough vaccines to last them for 8 days.
STEP 4: The Iowa Clinic vaccine committee meets to consider all the factors that go into requesting vaccines:
The vaccine brings up a lot of questions.
Read our vaccine FAQs
- What CDC distribution phase we are
- How many Iowa Clinic patients are eligible as part of this phase
- If we have any vaccines on hand, how many and what the expiration dates are
- How many patients have already received their first dose and will need a second
STEP 5: Based on the above factors, The Iowa Clinic quickly places a request for the number of doses we can distribute in the next 8 days.
STEP 6: Because of the extremely limited quantity, The Iowa Clinic typically receives far less vaccines than requested.
STEP 7: Once the doses are received, The Iowa Clinic contacts the patients who are eligible for the vaccine.
They are then invited to schedule their appointment during one of our COVID vaccine clinics at our West Lakes Campus. Appointments are first come, first served based on directions from the Polk County Health Department. Because of limited supply, patients cannot schedule with their primary care provider or any other Iowa Clinic provide they normally see: appointments are only available at designated vaccine clinic times.
STEP 8: Once notified, eligible patients can schedule a COVID vaccine appointment online or through a dedicated phone number provided to them.