Kansas working to define ‘essential workers’ as vaccine plan takes effect

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Governor Laura Kelly says “we’ve turned the corner” in the long battle against the coronavirus, thanks to the arrival of a vaccine.

Life-saving medication is being rolled out in the Sunflower State. Finally, doctors said it’s time to go on the offensive instead of playing defense for the past 10 months.

Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System said the spread of the infection in Kansas appears to be leveling off or trending down. Still, there were 4,000 new cases Monday and 37 new deaths since Friday statewide.

The first doses are reserved for at-risk health care providers identified by hospitals. Residents at long term care centers will also receive priority for the vaccine because that’s where the death rate has been the highest.

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“When vaccine doses allow, we will move next to the essential worker category,” Kelly said. “We are in the process of now really setting those out. Who will be an essential worker? And in what sequence will that category get.”

The state said identifying essential workers for the vaccine will be different from those labeled as essential workers during the spring.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, says determining who gets the vaccine first will be based on preventing illness, hospitalizations and deaths. The state has said that teachers and meat packing workers are expected to be included in the essential worker category.

Following essential workers, the governor said the over-65 population and those with underlying medical conditions will follow.

The vaccine supply is not expected to reach the general public until spring or early summer.

FOX4 is tracking the coronavirus and vaccinations for the Kansas City metro

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