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Sedgwick County leaders push for high-risk population to get vaccine sooner

Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 5:53 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - People with underlying health conditions who are younger than 65 are still waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine. They are not part of the current phase (Phase 2) in Kansas’ vaccine rollout plan. Sedgwick County commissioners want to include more high-risk people within Phase 2. With the phases technically decided by the state, Thursday morning, commissioners sent a letter to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, asking for permission to move forward.

Eyewitness News spoke with one Sedgwick County woman who said she’s called multiple times, trying to get an appointment for her 62-year-old, high-risk husband to receive a vaccine. Despite her own health issues including congenial heart failure and being three-and-a-half years out from breast cancer, 68-year-old Velda Conard said her husband is a higher risk and she’d like for him to get the shot first, sacrificing her turn for him.

“He’s stage 4 brain cancer, and he’s lost a lot of weight,” Conard said.

The problem is, at just 62 years old, Brett Conard is three years too young to be get a vaccine in Phase 2.

“It’s just frustrating, that’s the best way to put it,” he said.

Brett Conard worked at Cessna for 41 years and retired eight months ago. His job would have put him in the next vaccination phase in Sedgwick County.

“What I’m afraid of, if it gets him, it’ll take him,” Velda Conard said. “And it’s probably the same with me, but I really want him to have that shot.”

That’s a fear the couple shares. But with essential workers next on the list, ahead of high-risk people who are 64 and younger, it’s unknown when Brett Conard’s chance to be vaccinated will come. For now, it’s unclear whether there will be a change to the next phase to include people like Brett Conard. If that change does come, he’ll have his change to get the vaccine within the next few weeks.

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