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Some KS health departments frustrated over lack of speed, information in rollout of COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 10:59 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - While getting the COVID-19 vaccine delivered and administered is the primary focus across the U.S., the CDC reports that the State of Kansas ranks last in the country for vaccine distribution. The state says the ranking is misleading as the issue is a lag in reporting by vaccine providers, but some county health departments are also frustrated over the lack of speed and information in Kansas’ rollout of the vaccine.

KDHE data shows that the state has distributed more than 125,000 COVID-19 vaccines so far. A majority of that has gone to healthcare workers in the first phase of the vaccine distribution plan. But it’s still unclear when some of the most vulnerable populations in Kansas will receive the vaccine and some health departments are desperate for more information.

KDHE released the vaccine distribution plan in mid-December, but the Osage County Health Department just did receive its first shipment.

“It makes it difficult for us to communicate things when we don’t have those parameters, it’s hard,” said Osage County Health Director Jackie Patterson. “It creates confusion, and it creates some anxiety and anger from people because we don’t have it. We don’t have answers for them.”

Health officers across Kansas are looking for more information. Currently, it’s unclear when the next phase of the vaccine distribution plan will start and when the vaccine will be available to high-risk populations and people 65 and older.

Patterson is preparing now.

“Right now, we started a list for high-risk people, and that’s where we would start calling,” she said. “We would also notify our local first responders so our fire departments or (law enforcement officers), sheriff’s, those people, and let them know as well.”

As health departments across Kansas wait for more information, there are a few questions we’re asking KDHE. Among those questions are when the vaccine will be available for high-risk individuals, and people 65 and older, and how to sign up to get the vaccine when it’s available.

“I hate to say it, but it’s moving target as we go,” Sedgwick County Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns explained. “This is a big project and people are trying to figure it out as the vaccine is being manufactured.”

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