Some metro residents concerned about fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

Tracking Coronavirus
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Now that the vaccine has reached the Kansas City metro, health experts want to make sure the right people are getting it first. Some people are worried about fair distribution.

Right now, there’s a high demand, but low supply of the vaccine that fights COVID-19. Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System hope that doesn’t create a domino effect where people are lying to get to the front of the line. 

“Someone’s going to feel left out because the problem is there’s not enough,” Dr. Steve Stites said.

Many people want to get the vaccine, but there isn’t enough to go around just yet. 

For now, there’s a tier system. Stites said it’s not based on wealth or celebrity status, but rather “who is the most vulnerable.”

Jim and Paulette Durso raised their hands at 77 years old. “Us,” Durso said laughing. 

The CDC recently expanded that criteria. People 75 years old and essential workers should be next in line for the vaccine. 

By their definition, essential workers include first responders, school staff, public transit workers, prison and jail employees and anyone working with food, like grocery store workers. 

“Obviously, they should give priority to the people who really need it,” Joel Wiebe said. “When it comes my turn, I’ll be ready to take it.”

The next phase of vaccinations won’t begin until “late winter.”

Some people have concerns about others lying to get to the front of the line.

“I’m sure some people will lie, but hopefully people are as honest as possible,” Wiebe said. 

“I’ll pray for ‘em, and we’ll go from there,” Durso said.

“Trying to jump to the head of the line and distancing, pushing down somebody, who has all the health care vulnerability that you don’t have, that just feels a little goofy to me,” Stites said.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson understands leaders in our community and country, like Vice President Mike Pence, need to get the vaccine early on. 

“We need to continue to have our leaders getting it,” Hawkinson said. “That’s something different than someone who is just a celebrity.”

Hawkinson has yet to take the vaccine. He said there are more at risk health care workers who need it first. 

“I just really want to get it to those people that are the highest risk of having hospitalization and severe disease,” Hawkinson said.

Over the next year, Stites expects everyone to have the opportunity to get the vaccine. He said we just need to be patient and stick together. 

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