Comparing Kansas to other states in rollout of COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 4:27 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - People across Kansas are frustrated with the vaccine distribution rollout plan and the slower pace with which the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered. As of Wednesday (Jan. 13), the state remains in Phase One of the plan in which healthcare workers and residents or patients in long-term care facilities are first in line to be vaccinated. Phase Two is where people aged 65 and older and “high-contract critical workers” are among those who can be vaccinated. That “critical” workers group includes teachers.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment continues to say the biggest limit on the state’s vaccine rollout is its availability. Eyewitness News learned that other states like Arizona, New Jersey, New Mexico and Oklahoma have instituted a “pre-registration list,” allowing people to get in line for the vaccine. Currently, Kansas does have a vaccine website, but it does not have any way for people to pre-register for the vaccine. The most recent information from the CDC says Kansas has distributed more than 261,000 doses but administered a little less than 86,000. That’s about 33 percent of the distributed vaccine actually being put into people’s arms.

KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said what’s being reported isn’t fully accurate, and that what’s lagging is the state’s reporting system. Kansas Governor

But the federal government says it will have to change how it distributes vaccines based on how states are reporting.

“We will be allocating them based on the pace of administration as reported by states and by the size of (the) 65-and-over population in each state,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly this week said the state is now in the top tier of states as far as administering the COVID-19 vaccine, but frustrations across the state continue. Among those frustrated is Salina resident Dennis Hofmeier who wants to know when his family can get the vaccine. He hasn’t been able to get an answer from a doctor.

“...They just really don’t know what’s going on, and that’s really sad because lives are being lost every day,” he said.

In setting up a way to pre-register to be vaccinated, Oklahoma State Department of Health Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed said his state partnered with Microsoft and gave strict deadlines to get things up and running.

“We knew that we were going to have to just continue to do everything that we could to get vaccines into people’s arms. That’s why we started with large-scale pods before that scheduling portal rolled out,” he said.

In Lindsborg, the community hospital is tyring t be proactive to get things rolling by collecting names, birthdays and phone number, and putting people on a vaccine waiting list. Among the questions many Kansans have are when they can get the vaccine, where they can get it and whether they can make an appointment to get it.

Hofmeier worries about how many vaccines the state will be able to get in the future if it doesn’t keep up.

“The governor just pretty much (Tuesday) said things are moving along fine, very happy and complimenting Kansas. And that’s okay, but are we doing everything we can? I think we both agree we are not, we’re not. We are failing,” he said.

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