Majority of Oklahomans eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, Kansas working to close gap

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 10:29 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In Kansas, nonessential workers and people with underlying health conditions who are younger than 65 continue to wait for their opportunity to be vaccinated for COVID-19. That’s not the case in Oklahoma where a majority of the population can get a vaccine.

On Monday (March 8), the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced that it is moving into Phase 3 of its vaccine rollout plan. With this, 2.5 million more people in The Sooner State are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is a big step, and when we look at the different phases, this means that we are bringing on the vast majority of Oklahomans,” said OSDH Deputy Commissioner Keith Reed.

Oklahoma included high-risk people (those with underlying medical issues) in its Phase 2. Reed said the state moved forward because some counties were ready.

In Kansas, KDHE and Governor Laura Kelly have expressed numerous times that they want counties to move through each phase together.

“If we don’t do that, we’re going to have those counties that move into Phase 3 that will be inundated with people from outside their counties who want to take advantage of it,” Kelly said.

In Kansas, people with underlying health conditions who are younger than 65 are eligible to get a vaccine in Phase 3. Sedgwick County could soon make big steps forward in closing the gap. For the first time, Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz said vaccine supply looks good.

“What we had (Monday) was roughly (27,000) to 28,000 primary doses available. And we’re scheduling and knocking out at the (former Central Library in downtown Wichita) (2,200) to 2,300 shots a day,” Stolz said.

But to get those thousands of doses into people’s arms, the county will need to step up.

“We’re looking at increasing hours and increasing the number of doses at that site, but even with that increase capacity there, we feel like there’s room for another mega (vaccination) site,” Stolz said.

Sedgwick County said it’s working with KDHE to get that second large vaccine clinic up and running. That could happen by the end of the week.

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