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Appointments still open as vaccine eligibility expands to every Kansan 16 and older

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 4:46 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The opening of Phase 5 in Kansas’ COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan means that every Kansan 16 and older can schedule an appointment to get vaccinated against the virus. From a point of limited supply and high demand, the focus now and moving forward is building confidence to encourage those who have not received a shot to schedule an appointment to get a vaccine.

While in Sedgwick County, there continues to be a steady flow of people through the mass vaccination site, county health officials know there are many more who have been eligible to get a vaccine but haven’t rolled up their sleeves.

“Navigating through this pandemic has been pretty anxiety-inducing, so now I get to breathe a little easier,” said Hannah Rai who received her second COVID-19 vaccine dose on Monday in Wichita.

She said she was “fairly eager” to be vaccinated and she booked her appointment as soon as she was able. But Sedgwick County knows there are others not jumping in line, even with the fifth and final phase open in the vaccine rollout.

“People want to get back to some sense of semblance of normalcy, but the end goal for us to be able to do that is for people to be vaccinated,” Sedgwick County Health Directory Adrienne Byrne said.

Byrne said last fall when the health department surveyed people living in the county, 65 percent responded that they would get the vaccine. Sixteen percent said “no” and 19 percent said they would wait.

“We’re in Phase 5 now and still have openings, so if we hit that 65 percent, that would be surprising,” she said.

A report out this month from the COVID States Project found that about 25 percent of Kansans surveyed weren’t’ planning to get a vaccine. That makes it difficult to reach herd or community immunity, the point where enough people are immune that the virus has limited places to spread.

For those with questions about the vaccines, Immunize Kansas Coalition recommends talking to your physician.

“Each family or situation can be very different, so the first thing is to ask them, what are their concerns,” said Immunize Kansas Coalition board member and KU School of Medicine Wichita pediatrician Dr. Gretchen Homan.

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