Kansas Coronavirus Advisory Council deciding which groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine next

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 8:10 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Leaders in Kansas have a new task force to decide how the state will distribute vaccines.

The task force, called the Kansas Coronavirus Vaccine Advisory Council (COVAC), is working to decide who should get the vaccine next and how many the state will need.

It has members representing healthcare workers, early childhood, long-term care, schools, nurses, and minority populations.

Many groups in Kansas are hoping to get the vaccine after healthcare workers. The state Board of Education is asking KDHE to keep school staff a top priority.

Deputy Commissioner of the state board of education Brad Neuenswander serves on the commission and said school staff need to be toward top of the list.

The real challenge, is getting vaccines to not only teachers, but all staff members.

“We’ve have some schools couldn’t serve meals because their cooking staff, their kitchen staff tested positive, so then you can’t feed the kids,” Neuenswander said.

Other priority groups include police officers and firefighters. But the council has to know how many people with each of those groups need a vaccine. It’s not just a matter of deciding how many workers there are.

Workers are allowed to refuse a vaccine and some may not be able to get one if they have allergies.

“There may be 100,000 in this group but if only 80,000 say ‘I want it’ and 20,000 say ‘I don’t.’ Well then you can move through that group a little faster,” Neuenswander said.

The task force is also keeping in mind groups that are unique to Kansas. For example, meat packing plants may not be a high-priority on national recommendations, but it could be in Kansas.

Neuenswander said he hoped that the Moderna vaccine would be approved soon, allowing for more vaccines to be distributed, and allowing schools and other priority groups to receive the vaccine sooner.

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