Some KS lawmakers express frustrations in first phase of vaccination rollout plan

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 5:34 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) - With the Kansas legislative session underway, lawmakers are trying to get a better idea of how the state’s first month for vaccine distribution went and what’s to come. But, as Eyewitness News learned Tuesday (Jan. 12), they’re frustrated in trying to get answers from the state’s health agency, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

The Kansas House Health and Human Services Committee was looking to hold a discussion Tuesday on the vaccine rollout, but some members expressed frustration after KDHE canceled its participation over the weekend. Instead, the committee heard from hospital and physician groups.

“Physicians across the state are very, very supportive of both receiving the vaccine and making sure their patients have access to it,” said Kansas Medical Society Executive Director Rachelle Colombo.

The Kansas Hospital Association said for most hospitals in the state, vaccination efforts are moving smoothly overall. The Kansas Medical Society said challenges are evident with private or independent practices.

“Both getting the vaccine and understanding where they can get it, when they can get it, and what the process is. There’s been some changing information on that front,” Colombo said.

Initially, KDHE said that for a medical practice to get the vaccine for their workers they needed to be registered with WebIZ, the state’s vaccination recording database, Colombo explained. But that’s since changed.

“You’re still working with patients and you still have contact with folks, but you’re not a vaccinator,” Colombo said. “(As) a surgeon, for instance, you’re not providing vaccines to your patients.”

Rep. John Eplee R-Atchison, a lawmaker who also a family physician, said what makes this challenging is that some doctors and hospitals are ready to move into the next phase of the state’s vaccination rollout plan.

“They’re ready to start Phase Two right now, today,” Rep. Eplee said. “Other hospitals are not ready. They have not gotten their Phase One people vaccinated yet, so it’s a numbers game.”

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