DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced a partnership with 211 Iowa to provide vaccine navigation services for Iowans ages 65 years old and older.
The partnership between 211 Iowa and the Iowa Department of Health will launch today, March 9, 2021. Any Iowan, age 65 years old and older can simply call 211 for assistance in making an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccination.
The organization will continue to serve as the COVID-19 hotline, in addition to expanding its role to help Iowa residents in Tier 1B navigate the COVID-19 vaccine process.
Its expanded role is a partnership with the state of Iowa, Hy-Vee and the Area Agencies on Aging, also known as the Triple A’s (AAA’s).
The organization’s primary functions in the partnership will include data entry into shared documents and/or shared database and scheduling vaccine appointments for Iowa residents.
The 211 Iowa call specialists will ask for seniors' names and age or birth dates, but will not ask for social security numbers, insurance or financial information.
The organization will begin taking calls from Iowans, 65 years old and older, who need assistance navigating the vaccine process.
This phase will extend through the balance of the calendar year and over time. And as more vaccines becomes available, additional groups of Iowans who need help navigating the vaccine process will be able to contact 211 Iowa for assistance.
Call specialists will be available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. At this time, only Iowans, 65 and older, are eligible for this service.
During the process, 211 Iowa vaccine navigators will have the ability to schedule older Iowans into vaccine appointments, through a private scheduling portal, at Hy-Vee pharmacies.
Additional pharmacies may take part in this partnership in the future but for now, the program is exclusively with Hy-Vee.
In order to accommodate the expected call volume, 211 Iowa will be adding an additional 75 temporary staff for the next two months.
The organization offers a call back feature so callers can receive a return call instead of waiting on hold. Services are available in more than 150 languages through Language Line translation.
“All temporary staff will be dedicated to vaccine navigation,” said Melissa McCoy, Iowa’s 211 director. “Our regular 211 staff will remain focused on the traditional 211 service and the COVID-19 hotline.”
McCoy said staffing needs will continue to be evaluated closely and either increase or decrease according to need and usage.
We believe this program further solidifies the value 211 Iowa brings to Iowa residents, and we are happy to be able to continue to serve our state, said Deann Cook, executive director of United Ways of Iowa.
“We understand the frustration older adults without online skills and access have experienced when trying to schedule an appointment,” Cook continued. “This service will fill that gap, and we believe it will be welcome support for many Iowans and their families.”
211 Iowa is a free statewide information and referral service available to residents in all 99 counties.
Iowans can call, text, use the mobile app, or use the 211 Iowa website any time, day or night, to get connected to essential resources and programs that can help them meet their current need.
The organization has served as the state’s official COVID-19 hotline since March of 2020.