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Iowa asks for additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to be withheld as demand wanes: report

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Officials in Iowa have reportedly asked for nearly 22,000 additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine set to be shipped to the state this week to be withheld due to waning demand for the product, per a local report. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed the decision on Saturday, the Des Moines Register reported.

“Along with several other states, we are seeing a slowdown of vaccine administration, but we are working with our local partners and community leaders to determine where additional education is needed and to gain an understanding of the needs of each county’s unique population,” Sarah Ekstrand, a spokesperson for the state health department, told the newspaper in a statement. 

Ekstrand said the state turned down some 18,300 of 34,300 doses of Moderna vaccine, while it passed on 3,510 of 46,800 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

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To date, some 2.2 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state, with an estimated 983,543 Iowans having completed their vaccine series. 

The state opened vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 years of age or older at the beginning of April, with a daily record of 50,862 vaccinations reached during the week of April 5, per state health data. However, since then, vaccinations have been on the decline, with the highest daily total last week reaching just 28,914. 

“We are hopeful that lifting the pause of the J&J vaccine will also contribute to more vaccines being administered in the state in the weeks to come,” Ekstrand told the Des Moines Register. “We want to vaccinate as many Iowans as possible while doing everything we can to avoid vaccines sitting on shelves. The remaining doses from our allocation will be held in Iowa’s reserve for use as needed at a later date.”

A spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health did not immediately return Fox News’ request for additional comment.

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A decrease in vaccine demand is not unique to Iowa. As the supply of coronavirus vaccine doses in the U.S. outpaces demand, some places around the country are finding there’s such little interest in the shots, they need to turn down shipments.

Louisiana, for instance, has stopped asking the federal government for its full allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine. About three-quarters of Kansas counties have turned down new shipments of the vaccine at least once over the past month. And in Mississippi, officials asked the federal government to ship vials in smaller packages so they don’t go to waste.

The dwindling demand for vaccines illustrates the challenge that the U.S. faces in trying to conquer the pandemic while at the same time dealing with the optics of tens of thousands of doses sitting on shelves when countries like India and Brazil are in the midst of full-blown medical emergencies.

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Earlier Monday, Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor on the COVID Response, said the Biden administration will share up to 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as supply becomes available. 

Though the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been authorized for use in the U.S, it has been by the World Health Organization. Tens of millions of doses have been stockpiled in the U.S. should it receive emergency use authorization, sparking an international outcry that lifesaving doses were being withheld when they could be used elsewhere.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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