Kansas gets ready to move to Phase 2 and vaccinate thousands

Tracking Coronavirus

Dr. Lee Norman, head of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, answers questions about the COVID-19 pandemic during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Norman says he’s encouraged by data showing that hospitals have been under less stress recently from the pandemic. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The state of Kansas says it could be ready to move to the next phase of its COVID-19 plan by the end of the week.

Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, made the announcement during a call with doctors at the University of Kansas Health System Tuesday morning.

“We’ll have a good idea, I think, by the end of the week when we can move the whole state into Phase 2,” Norman said. “There will be formal announcements so that we can sync everybody up.”

Norman went on to say that a number of counties across the state helped neighboring counties and are already vaccinating people in Phase 2.

“You know, the counties have been really good,” Norman said. “Some use their excess vaccine and pushed it to other counties that were having more struggles in Phase 1. But I think we’re getting very close.”

Phase 2 includes residents 65 and older, people in “congregate settings,” high-contact critical workers and those who qualify for Phase 1, but are still unvaccinated. The first phase of COVID-19 vaccinations were provided to health care personnel through the county and local hospitals.

People included in “congregate settings” include workers and residents:

  • Homeless shelters/homeless housing settings.
  • Congregate childcare institutions, adult and child protective services.
  • Emergency shelters or safe houses for victims of domestic violence.
  • Corrections facilities, including jails and juvenile justice facilities.
  • Behavioral health institutions (including mental health institutions) and residential treatment centers.
  • Adult care homes, those in home plus facilities not covered in phase 1.
  • Senior living homes.
  • Personal care aides.

High-contact critical workers include:

  • First responders, correction officers.
  • Grocery store workers and food services.
  • K-12 and childcare workers.
  • Food processing.
  • Large-scale aviation manufacturing plants.
  • Transportation workers.
  • Workers in the following industries, if they regularly need to be in high-risk settings to perform their duties:
    • Retail, warehouses and sales outlets.
    • Agriculture.
    • Supply of critical services or materials for the COVID-19 response.
    • The U.S. Postal Service.
    • Department of Motor Vehicles.

The largest obstacle is that there isn’t enough vaccines for everyone eligible to get one when Phase 2 opens. Health experts said it’s going to take time to reach that goal, but they confirmed they’re ready when the time comes.

“It will take all of us to get this vaccination done,” Dr. Steve Stites, Chief Medical Officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said. “You’ll have multiple avenues to try and get vaccine, as long as we get the vaccine in.”

Those avenues include mass vaccination sites that are ready to go when larger quantities of vaccine arrive in the metro.

Mass vaccination sites ready to open on the Kansas side of the metro:

  • Three locations are planned in Wyandotte County
  • University of Kansas Health System
  • A Johnson County location has been identified
  • Advent Health will be involved

The University of Kansas Health System says it has 65,000 patients aged 65 and older that fall into Phase 2. The Health System is working to notify all of its patients this week to explain expectations when it comes to getting a vaccine.

You can also find the latest information about the vaccination rollout in Kansas on the state’s website at KansasVaccine.gov.

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