KANSAS CITY, Kan. — On Thursday, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly toured a COVID-19 vaccination site in Wyandotte County, looking for ways to ramp up what some have called a lackluster vaccine distribution throughout the state.
“I want to see what people are going through. I talk about this. I think about this every single day.“ Kelly said.
Kansas has now vaccinated just over 3% of its population, which has placed it ahead of Missouri. However, Kansas has only used about 40% of the vaccines that it’s received.
This vaccine administration site, a former Kmart store on State Avenue in KCK that’s been remodeled to host Wyandotte County residents and employees ready to get their shot, has been a bright spot for Kansas.
By closing time Thursday, organizers expect they will have vaccinated more than 4,000 people since they first opened.
Kansas City, Kansas Mayor David Alvey said it’s time to ramp up distribution to sites like this.
“More conversations about how we can assist in ramping up the distribution of the vaccine, not just in Wyandotte County but in fact in the eastern part of Kansas,” Alvey said.
According to Kelly, the perceived hold up stemmed from many counties still being in Phase One. Therefore, the vaccine was only available to those working in health care or living in long-term care facilities.
She said the state is almost ready to transition to Phase Two.
“When we will start vaccinating everybody 65 and older, other congregate settings, a lot of frontline essential workers, that’s going to be a huge part of our population, and we have to have places, facilities like this set up to be able to handle vaccinations in large quantities.“ Kelly said.
She did not provide a timeline of when the state would officially be in Phase Two, but Bob Bennett, director of the Wyandotte County vaccination site, said they’ll be ready when they can get more doses of the vaccine.
“We’re now exploring ways to actually build up two more sites hopefully in the month of February so we can also take care of folks in the eastern and western portion of the county as well,” Bennett said.
Many Kansans may be wondering: When and where can I get vaccinated? Kelly said the state is working on a website that will answer those questions and more.