Despite push, wait for vaccine continues for Kansans with underlying medical conditions

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 8:42 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - While Sedgwick County started vaccinating law enforcement workers Friday (March 5), those with underlying medical conditions will have to continue waiting before they are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Eyewitness News spoke with a state health official who said despite a push from some counties, people younger than 65 with underlying conditions are still considered part of Phase 3 in Kansas’ COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan.

On Thursday morning, Sedgwick County commissioners sent a letter to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, asking to add people with underlying medical conditions into Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout plan.

“You’re probably going to have a bigger challenge than those that are normally healthy without underlying medical conditions,” Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Pete Meitzner said. “For us to do that, we just though it would be the right thing to do.”

Chief Advisor for COVID-19 Coordination in Kansas, Dr. Marci Nielsen said the state continues to look at the medical evidence and prioritizing people for the vaccine based on population and health risk.

‘We are very sympathetic and the best thing we can do is get more vaccine coming into our state,” Dr. Nielsen said. “Again, as the state agency, it’s important for us to look at all of the folks who need to be vaccinated. Critical workers, firefighters, policemen, meatpackers, those are all folks that are also in Phase 2.”

The state identified those with severe medical risks as Part of Phase 3, including people with cancer, and those with other medical risks as part of Phase 4, including people with asthma.

“Were there to be some new science, some new evidence that suggested we should reverse course, I know we would absolutely look at that,” Dr. Nielsen said.

She took time to remind people who are at high-risk to continue working with their primary care doctors to determine if they should get the vaccine when they are eligible.

Dr. Nielsen said the state continues to follow CDC recommendations and the KDHE also looks at medical literature to identify which groups are at higher risk for both illness and death.

You can see the full interview with Dr. Nielsen in which she answers more questions concerning the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the window below.


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