It’s been a long 10 months of pandemic life, but the sweet scent of freedom that could come from the COVID-19 vaccines this year has begun to waft across the country. Spring fever has arrived urgently, and with a voracious appetite. We miss our loved ones. We want to meet friends for dinner at a restaurant. We want to greet neighbors at festivals, and we want to give our kids the school experience and the childhood they deserve. And we’re tired of wearing masks.

The vaccines are a glimmer of hope, albeit a faint glimmer. After weeks of the shots being doled out at a trickle to health care workers and nursing home residents and staff – as we all expected they should – Iowans are wondering when the rest of us can line up to get vaccinated. Last week, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced that it will move into the next phase of vaccine rollouts starting Feb. 1. But just because the phase is beginning, doesn’t mean the people who are eligible for it will get their shots. Iowa ranks 46th in the country for the number of doses of vaccine we’ve received. And the uneven distribution of those doses has been both chaotic and predictable.

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