Hy-Vee pharmacies are now offering COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone regardless of whether they have an appointment. The new walk-in vaccination policy was announced in a news release on Wednesday.
“For those who prefer to make a vaccine appointment in advance, that option is still available by visiting www.hy-vee.com/covidvaccine, selecting ‘Find Appointments’ and completing the digital vaccine informed consent form and appointment selection,” the company said.
The new walk-in policy applies in all the eight states where Hy-Vee has pharmacies.
There is no charge for the vaccination. Individuals with health insurance are asked to bring their policy cards, as are those enrolled in Medicare Part B. People without health insurance will be asked to supply their Social Security numbers as part of the registration process.
The announcement comes the same day Gov. Kim Reynolds said her administration is working on new methods of convincing people to get vaccinated against the virus.
“We’re just looking for unique ways that we can go to where Iowans are gathering and have a mobile clinic there,” Reynolds told reporters. “And they’ll be able to receive a vaccine, but it’s also an opportunity to be educated, get some information, if they have any questions. It will just be an all-of-the-above resource.”
The governor said mobile vaccination clinics could be set up at minor league baseball games, farmers markets and other venues that attract large crowds. She did not offer any details, and no plans appear to have been set for such mobile clinics.
“We’re going to be anywhere and everywhere,” Reynolds said.
Demand for vaccine has slumped in Iowa, since everyone over the age 16 became eligible to be vaccinated earlier this month. Two weeks ago, 21 counties declined their scheduled shipments of vaccine, because they still had sufficient supplies left over from the previous week. Last week, that number rose to 43. This week, 80 of Iowa’s 99 counties declined the next scheduled shipments of vaccine.
Reynolds told reporters gathered at the Iowa Capitol on Wednesday that approximately 56 percent of Iowans aged 18 and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The governor said her goal is to increase that number to 75 percent before the end of June.
Reynolds did not discuss the bill passed by the Judiciary Committee of the Iowa House on Tuesday that bans state agencies, local governments, schools, private businesses and nonprofits from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from anyone who enters their premises. The bill would punish institutions like Grinnell College, which announced earlier this month it will require students to be vaccinated against the virus starting in the fall.
Under the provisions of the bill, Grinnell would lose all access to state grants and become ineligible for any state contracts.
The bill does not apply to vaccinations against any other disease, just COVID-19. It also allows employers to require their workers to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. There is also an exemption for healthcare facilities, which many speakers during Tuesday’s public comment period denounced, using distortion of fact and fear-mongering rhetoric common among anti-vaxxers.
“No Iowan should be forced to have a chemical injected into their body against their will in order to be able to go to a grocery store, attend a baseball game or a movie, or travel freely in our state and our country,” Rep. Steven Holt, a Republican from Dennison and floor manager for the bill in the Iowa House, said on Tuesday. “At the very core of our beliefs as Americans is the right of free men and women to live their lives as they see fit without the heavy hand of government dictating profoundly personal choices.”
The bill was introduced in the Iowa House last week at the request of Gov. Reynolds, who demanded legislative action to prevent the introduction of so-called “vaccine passports.” Vaccine passports have become a major talking point in Republican and other right-wing political circles in recent weeks.
Vaccine passports do not exist in the United States. During a White House press briefing on April 6, Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained that President Biden is firmly opposed to the idea, and his administration will not create them.
Psaki’s statement came the day before Reynolds declared “that we must take a stand as a state against” the nonexistent passports, and said she would issue an executive order banning them if the Legislature failed to create a new law against requiring proof of this one type of vaccination.