Demand isn’t problem with COVID vaccine, metro health leaders say, but supply is limited

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Vaccines are rolling out across the metro, but are they coming fast enough? More people want it than can get it on both sides of the state line. 

Metro health departments said a big problem is production times. They’re hoping as more vaccines are approved, we’ll see more people get vaccinated.

“Thousands and thousands of people have filled out our online survey, both as individuals as well as businesses or community organizations. But this week, for example, we only received 975 doses,” said Juliann Van Lieu, director of Wyandotte County’s health department.

Heath departments and hospitals are overwhelmed with people ready to go.

“I really was thinking that a huge part of my job, our job would be convincing people to take it. But we haven’t had to do that,” said Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County health department. “So it’s been frustrating, though, that the interest is there, but we haven’t had enough vaccines to match up with that interest.”

“We’ve basically started with the age criteria. And as you might imagine, there has been great interest from a lot of people to come in and get vaccination,” said Dr. Matt Gratton, associate chief medical officer at Truman Medical Centers. “Yesterday, we gave the most vaccines that we have given to date, over 1,000 doses. So I think that’s pretty impressive.”

Officials say the holdup is production. There’s not enough product, and then the states have to divvy it up.

“It’s crawling in, you know. At the rate that we’re currently getting vaccines in the state of Missouri, it will be at least 30 weeks before 75% of the folks that are over 65 or have high-risk preexisting conditions can get vaccinated,” said Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department.

Archer said he believes President Joe Biden using the War Powers Act will help get vaccines out more quickly, but for now, he said patience is the greatest virtue.

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