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This Twitter account is helping Iowans find and schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments

A new Twitter account was launched on Wednesday to help Iowans find and schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments as they open up in real-time.

The account, called Iowa Vaccine Alerts, was created by Iowa City web developer Brian Finley and gives automatic updates on appointments from Hy-Vee, Walgreens, and CVS locations across Iowa as they become available. Finley, along with many other Iowans, became eligible for a vaccine on Monday and created the account after becoming frustrated with the difficult process of trying to schedule an appointment for himself and his family.

There’s no guarantee that a listed appointment will be available when you see it, so Finley suggests setting up alerts so you can be instantly notified when new appointments become available.

Since the account went live on Wednesday, it has already gained more than 10,000 followers—helping hundreds find and schedule vaccine appointments across the state.

While many are praising the account for allowing Iowans to successfully schedule vaccine appointments, some Iowa Democratic leaders on Thursday criticized Iowa’s Republican-run leadership, expressing frustration about the lack of government help in providing easy access to vaccine appointments.

“Getting a vaccine shouldn’t be like playing the hunger games. It’s just another example of a leadership vacuum,” said House Democratic Whip Jennifer Konfrst, according to a story by Iowa Starting Line.

“The fact that that is how Iowans are being forced to get vaccine information openings I think speaks volumes about the challenges that our state government has had in rolling out vaccinations,” said Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls.

“I’m happy that so many people are getting vaccinated, but we also need to recognize that there are also major equity and accessibility problems with the way this has been handled state- and nation-wide. Look around you, in your social circle, your community, your workplace, and think about connecting with someone who may need help getting an appointment scheduled or transportation to/from an appointment,” wrote Finley through the Iowa Vaccine Alerts Twitter earlier today.

This Twitter account is helping Iowans find and schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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