The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that older adults, those with underlying medical conditions, and other groups of essential workers could receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the beginning of next month.

Officials from the state public health agency told Iowa state legislators on Tuesday that they expect to begin the next phase of the vaccine distribution by February 1. As of right now, front line health care workers and those in assisted living facilities and senior centers have been the only people to have gotten the vaccine. The process of inoculating this new group will take several weeks, according to the Gazette.

Officials say that residents need to understand that the new guidelines don't mean you'll get the vaccine by February 1, or even during the month of February for that matter. Officials also point out that only Iowans age 75 and older will be offered the vaccine during the next phase. This differs from national guidelines that suggest anyone 65 and older get the vaccine.

The Gazette reports that other groups that would be eligible for the vaccine in the next phase would also include school and child care staff, first responders, correctional facility staff and inmates, and individuals living in congregate settings along with their caregivers. Officials say that they are also prioritizing workers at food, distribution, and manufacturing plants, including meatpacking plants.

According to the Gazette, the next phase of vaccinations will begin when the healthcare workforce in Iowa has reached 60 to 70 percent coverage.

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