Kansas to move into second phase of vaccine distribution Thursday
Kansas will move into the second phase of vaccine distribution Thursday, Gov. Laura Kelly said in a news release Wednesday, meaning thousands of older Kansans and essential workers will be set to get their doses in the coming weeks.
Over 1 million Kansans will fall into the Phase 2 category, which includes those age 65 and older, individuals living in congregate settings, such as prisons. It also applies to essential workers, like law enforcement, grocery store workers and teachers, who are in "high-contact" fields.
Far fewer doses will actually be available, however, with Kelly's office saying that the state will receive only 45,000 doses of vaccine next week.
"While it’s important to remember that the rate of vaccinations will be dependent on the amount we receive from the federal government, we use every tool available to make vaccine delivery transparent, efficient, and fast in order to reach as many Kansans as possible," Kelly said in a statement.
The state has distributed over 129,000 vaccine doses, according to a new dashboard published Wednesday by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Kansas ranks 36th in the country for per capita vaccine distribution, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Details of how to arrange for an appointment are not immediately clear for most counties, although it appears that much of that work will be left to county health departments.
KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said Tuesday there would be no statewide scheduling system for vaccine appointments. Rather, the state would have a database where residents could find where and how to get the shots in their county.
Dennis Kriesel, director of the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments, said guidance to that effect went out to health departments Tuesday afternoon, giving local officials more flexibility in making decisions about when different groups within Phase 2 can get their shots.
Norman also noted that the state doesn't have to move into Phase 2 "in lockstep," with counties that are done vaccinating Phase 1 individuals able to move forward on Thursday. Some may have already effectively moved into Phase 2, he added.
Currently, 300 facilities are already approved to give out shots across Kansas, and Norman said other clinics and doctors' offices were applying to be added to that list.
But KDHE has expressed concerns that they are not getting an adequate vaccine supply from the federal government. Due to its population, the state is due to receive about 1% of all vaccines distributed nationally but Norman said Monday that the state often gets short-changed.
"You can't get to the top tier if you don't have enough vaccine from the federal government," he said.