Governor: Kansas to receive first COVID-19 vaccine by mid-December

Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 10:46 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said Wednesday afternoon Kansas will receive its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-December.

The governor said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could be authorized for emergency use as soon as Dec. 10 and Dec 14 respectively. Pfizer will then send a shipment of 24,000 doses followed by 49,000 doses from Moderna. Weekly shipments are expected afterward for an anticipated 150,000 doses by the end of the month, the governor said.

The vaccine will be administered in phases. Phase 1A begins with healthcare workers, especially those who treat COVID-19 patients. Phase 1B includes other essential workers, nursing home residents, those over the age of 65 and high-risk groups (cancer, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, heart conditions, obesity and diabetes). Phase 2 is based on an increase in vaccination supply and Phase 3 is based on a sufficient supply of the vaccine.

“We will work to make sure as many Phase 1 people are vaccinated as possible by the end of the month. Phase 2 and 3 will be administered on a rolling basis between winter and late spring,” said Gov. Kelly.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is working with health care providers to be ready to vaccinate Kansans. More than 200 are in the process of signing up to distribute vaccines. More are expected.

The Pfizer vaccine will be delivered to pre-positioned locations across Kansas that are equipped with ultra-cold storage. Other storage will be set up for the Moderna vaccine. The governor said she would not be disclosing the location for security reasons.

“We have laid out our framework to prioritize vaccine delivery to those on the front lines of our pandemic response or those disproportionately affected by the virus. With this framework, we intend to protect the greatest number of Kansans foster economic recovery, and get our kids back into our school buildings as quickly and safely as possible.

The vaccine itself will be free, but providers can charge an administrative fee for giving the shot. No one will be turned away if they cannot afford the fee. Governor Kelly said short-term funding will finance the initial distribution of the vaccine but CARES funding ends Dec. 30.

“It is imperative that Congress in Washington get its act together and pass another stimulus package and ensure that states can staff up and get folks vaccinated as need be,” she said.

The governor said even with the arrival of the vaccine, precautions should still be taken. She said the following health guidelines can help students like those in the Wichita school district, which moves to full remote learning this week, return to in-person classes.

“An upcoming vaccine does not mean we should take our foot off the gas. We must continue to encourage widespread testing, wear face coverings, and employ other mitigation strategies and listen to advice from public health officials. We have seen what can happen when these are not followed,” she said.

The vaccine requires two doses which means about 75,000 Kansans could get it going into 2021. It is currently only available to adults (18 and up). No vaccine has been approved for children.

The Kansas Leadership Center is working to help slow the spread of COVID-19 with a bipartisan public health campaign. The campaign, called “Beat the Virus,” partners with KDHE and connects local leaders in the fight against the virus.

“To us, a leader is someone who is willing to use their influence to mobilize other people to help solve a tough problem. Well, we have a tough problem for Kansans and we need lots of Kansans exercising lots to leadership to combat this,” said Kansas Leadership Center CEO and President Ed O’Malley. “We know this has been happening the last eight months but we want to help it even more.”

The goal of the “Beat the Virus” campaign is to host more than 1,000 meetings where those leaders come up with action-based projects in local communities to slow the spread of COvID-19. O’Malley said when the vaccine does become available in Kansas, communication, and information will be crucial.

“Keep the hospitals open and under capacity and schools open and then the vaccine around the corner is a really good sign,” O’Malley said. “There’s still work to do. The vaccine isn’t here yet. We have to slow this thing.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly will hold a press conference Wednesday to announce the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.

The press conference will be at 4 p.m. and broadcast live on Facebook and KWCH 12 app.

Missouri unveiled their plan Tuesday, according to KY3. The state plans on distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in three priority phases. The first for healthcare and essential workers, as well as high-risk populations. The second phase for Phase 1 populations and all Missouri residents, and then transitioning into phase three of widespread availability of the vaccine.

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