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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The majority of Iowans who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are women, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Why it matters: Overlooking any group or segment of our community in vaccine distribution could exacerbate death rates among those groups and thwart pandemic recovery for all of us.

By the numbers: Men make up just under half of our state’s population and account for 52% of Iowa's COVID-19 deaths.

  • But they account for just 31% of vaccinations in both the state and Polk County.

The disparities don't end there.

  • Hispanic or Latino people are 6% of our population and 3% of deaths in Iowa but account for around 2% of vaccinations, per state data.
  • Black people make up about 4% of the state’s population and just under 2.5% of deaths but account for just over 1% of those vaccinated.
  • Asian people make up about 2.5% of our population, about 1.2% of deaths, and about 1% of those vaccinated.
About 1,000 Des Moines Public Schools staffers received COVID-19 vaccinations at Central Campus on Feb. 6. Photo: DMPS

Driving the news: Health care workers and long-term care facility residents were the target of the first rounds of the COVID-19 vaccinations, both groups that are predominately women and white, notes The 19th.

  • Manufacturing, factory and construction employees — who aren't part of Iowa's first vaccine wave — are predominantly male and have higher percentages of minorities as compared to the health care profession, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What they're saying: “We cannot blame these workers," said Joe Henry, a Des Moines resident and policy director for the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.

  • "We cannot say it's due to their machismo. That’s bullsh*t. When you do not educate people, inform them and/or require them to take this as a requirement for employment, you are allowing them to die.”

Of note: Communities of color are more skeptical of the vaccines, which creates challenges even as they become more widely distributed, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

  • Iowa currently ranks among the worst states in vaccine distribution and the percentage of our population vaccinated. Gov. Kim Reynolds is spitting fire about it.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Scoop: Des Moines eyes Google Fiber partnership

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Des Moines city leaders are in talks with several companies, including Google Fiber, to bring residents and businesses better internet, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Internet accessibility has been a priority for years and has become more urgent amid a pandemic that requires large swaths of the population to complete their work and schooling from home.

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Feb 8, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Chuck Grassley's post-Trump priorities

Chairman Chuck Grassley speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing.  Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

With President Biden at the helm, Sen. Chuck Grassley is focusing on protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard — a law that had its ups and downs under the Trump administration.

  • "I hope it will be easier than [with] the Trump administration to protect ethanol and biofuels," Grassley told Axios.

Why it matters: The ethanol mandate boosts the price of corn and establishes a floor price for Iowa's most popular crop.

Facebook says it will crack down on COVID vaccine misinformation

Photo illustration: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook says it will take tougher action during the pandemic against claims that vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccination, are not effective or safe.

Why it matters: It's a partial reversal from Facebook's previous position on vaccine misinformation. In September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company wouldn't target anti-vaccination posts the same way it has aggressively cracked down on COVID misinformation.