Kansas moves people 65+ up in line for COVID vaccine, but leaders have few answers on rollout

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February 07 2021 05:30 pm

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly unveiled a revised rollout for the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday. It moved anyone who is older than 65 years old into the second round of vaccine recipients.

But when that second phase starts, how to sign up for a vaccine is still extremely unclear. Some people who are seeking answers have been left frustrated.

Mike Smith, a 69-year-old who lives in Wichita, has been isolating since March. He said he lives without a functioning immune system as a result of a rare virus. He’s been searching daily for information on how to get a vaccine.

“To a man and to a woman, every one of them has said, ‘We don’t know how you sign up. We don’t know when you’re going to be able to sign up. And we don’t know what your priority is ultimately going to be,'” Smith said.

During her press conference, Kelly said that the process would become more simple as time goes on and more doses of the vaccine are being administered by more health care providers.

“I know the question on everyone’s mind right now is, ‘When will I be able to get the vaccine?’ That answer will depend on when and how many doses we receive from the federal government,” Kelly said.

That information on Phase 2 vaccine sign-ups should be available closer to the end of January, the governor said.

Kansas has been criticized for its comparatively slow roll-out of vaccinations, according to the CDC website monitoring the vaccine’s dispersal.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas health department, said those numbers are incorrect and the result of a technical error during their submission.

“It’s only a guestimate until we have the hard data in there. But I’m guessing that it’s probably almost twice the number that is recorded in there now. People are not sitting on the vaccine and keeping it in storage. They are getting it into people’s arms,” Norman said.

State health officials also said that their plan is if there is surplus vaccine at one location, that surplus is taken to another location with demand.

Smith said he’s skeptical. He also said that he just wants to see his grandkids.

“Right now, all I can do is wait and keep using the phone and the web to try to get on a list and get the vaccine,” Smith said.

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