Next in line for COVID-19 vaccine may differ by county

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 6:43 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s office this week said there are about 1 million Kansans who are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 2 of the distribution plan. But who gets the vaccine next differs from one county to the next. In Sedgwick County, residents as young as 65 are finally eligible to schedule appointments, while other counties have been vaccinating those 65 and older for at least a couple of weeks.

Shots are going into people’s arms as fast as some counties are getting vaccines. The Pratt County Health Department gets 200 doses per week. On Wednesdays, the county receives a shipment. By the next day, they’re vaccinating people with appointments. Registered nurse and Pratt County Health Department Administrator Darcie Van Der Vyver said Pratt is already vaccinating a variety of people who qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 2.

“We did teachers a little bit sooner than most counties probably did because we really wanted to keep schools open,” she said. “So probably next, we’ll move on to those that stayed open and are essential. It is hard because, like I said, everyone is important, and if they want (the vaccine), they want it, so it’s just really hard prioritizing.”

Pratt County has about 9,000 residents. A little more than 3,000 in the county answered a survey saying they want a vaccine. So far, about 1,500 people in the county have been vaccinated.

“We wish that we could have more than 200 doses (per week), but we understand that our hands are tied because the state’s hands are tied,” Van Der Vyver said.

The state’s plan identifies Phase 2 as those 65 and older, people in congregated settings and high-contact critical workers. In Sedgwick County, the health department is still working on a timeline for who will be next in line to get vaccinated. The county expects to get a list out next week.

Leaders in county health departments are hoping more vaccines will come to Kansas so that more doses can get to their specific communities.

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