Vaccine supply the biggest concern as Kansas gets closer to 2nd phase of distribution

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 7:34 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - While some Kansas counties are ready to move on to Phase Two of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, some smaller, rural counties are working to catch up. As Kansas moves closer to Phase Two, vaccine supply is the biggest concern across the state.

That’s one reason some rural counties are still working to vaccinate healthcare workers. This is the case in Edwards County which received its first shipment of only 20 doses in December. Those were used up in two days. The second shipment didn’t come until Wednesday (Jan. 13). Those doses were from somewhere else in the state that had already completed Phase 1.

“We contacted the (Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s) immunization program, our regional consultant, and she put some calls out or had a list. She was able to round these up for us,” said Edwards County Administrator Mitchell Craft.

To make the next phase work, Edwards County will need bigger or more frequent shipments. Phase Two of the vaccine distribution plan includes people who are 65 and older, as well as first responders and other “high-contact critical workers,” including teachers.

“At least a couple hundred doses at once to get a good start on it,” Craft said of what Edwards County will need. “Because that’s 65-plus and teachers. We have two school districts in the county, and they’re not all going to get it, but it’ll take 40 or 50 doses itself, just for one school.”

Reno County is in the process of laying out what Phase Two will look like.

Those older than 65 will be first, but the county hasn’t determined who all belongs in the “high-contact critical worker” category.

“Once we exhaust that 65-plus subset, we’ll need to get better at defining those subsequent Phase-Two groups,” said Dr. Scott Pauly at Hutchinson Clinic. “We haven’t opened that Pandora’s box yet, but a lot of it depends on supply, etc...”

But like Edwards County, Reno County leaders say they’ll need more doses than they’re currently getting to make it work. Craft said in Edwards County, leaders have put together a list of about 130 people who have called and are interested in the vaccine. he said that number is manageable, which is one advantage of being rural.

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