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COVID-19 vaccine sites hoping to shrink lines following President Biden decision

(KS Governor's Office)
Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 11:24 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly and KDHE secretary Dr. Lee Norman are encouraged with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine plan following President Joe Biden’s 16% increase for states supplies decision.

President Biden’s announced plans for a 16% increase in vaccine shipments to states along with bumping up the advance notice of much they will get from the federal government, as opposed to the one week notice currently, will help shorten lines at vaccine sites.

Stormont Vail Health gave more than 1,000 doses of the COVID vaccine Tuesday alone at its exhibition hall site. 13 News received complaints from people who say the process took more than two hours. One person’s 92 year old mother spent long periods of time standing.

Johnson County had people waiting patiently in long lines as well. Kelly said she saw the photos, too.

“They did have appointments, but a lot of folks were very anxious and they got there early and they sort of created that line, but we need to anticipate those kinds of things and accommodate for them,” she said.

Stormont told us they are reducing the number of appointments to hopefully shorten wait times and lines, and urge people to bring any assistive devices for their appointments, as the process does involve some walking.

Riley County has made changes, too. After traffic jams last week, they moved their clinic to Pottorf Hall at Cico Park. They will be confirming everyone who pulls in has an appointment before directing them to parking.

Riley Co. Police Department Assistant Director Kurt Moldrup said, “We want to be as accurate as we can in the information we collect and as safe as we can with those that we’re vaccinating, but we also want to make it as convenient as possible for the public.”

Both Kelly and Norman said planning was complicated by the state only getting a week’s notice of how much vaccine would arrive as well as putting together a vaccine plan quickly.

Kelly said of the one week’s notice from the feds as, “basically creating a weekly logistical fire drill.”

Norman added the three week advanced notice may sound trivial but it is not at all trivial.

“We share this frustration. We are in regular contact with our federal delegation and the White House Operation Warp Speed about the need for more vaccine,” said Norman.

Senator Jerry Moran said the federal government needs to look into whether the problem is manufacturing capacity or the distribution logistics. As part of a bi-partisan group looking at the next federal COVID-19 relief package, he hopes they can set aside debate on controversial issues, like minimum wage, and move forward with funding the vaccine roll-out.

“We can’t do everything, we can do some things and there is broad support for more money for vaccinations and with the other things that are going on in congress, let’s do that now,” said Moran. “Then continue to work on what the next phase of economic help should look like.”

Kelly said the state expects to receive 17,550 primed doses of Pfizer and 23,500 doses of Moderna next week. The state’s vaccination dashboard shows 5% of Kansans have received the vaccine. With 392,000 doses distributed, but only 177,000 being administered.

In an effort to improve transparency, Gov. Kelly said county-specific vaccine information can be found on the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. She said the dashboard can be found at KansasVaccine.gov. The dashboard takes into account multiple factors, like the population of priority groups, if vaccine sites are able to keep the vaccine frozen if necessary, how many residents a site can be vaccinated and the risk of illness or death in the community.

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly and Dr. Norman discussed statewide vaccination efforts and a possible virus variant that may have entered a state correctional facility.

Governor Kelly says the state is still ramping up its testing efforts. She said there were originally 35 testing sites provided by external partners and now 60 communities have signed up to provide even more testing sites. According to the Kansas Governor, testing is how healthcare providers are able to catch asymptomatic people and keep COVID-19 contained.

Gov. Kelly also said she realizes there is a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines. She said she was encouraged by the Biden Administration’s announcement that it will begin boosting vaccines by around 17%.

According to Gov. Kelly, since Kansas began receiving vaccine shipments in December, the state has been notified of shipment details, which she says create a type of “weekly fire drill.” She said her administration will continue to prioritize transparency and communication with public health officials.

In an effort to improve transparency, Gov. Kelly said county-specific vaccine information can be found on the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. She said the dashboard can be found at KansasVaccine.gov. The dashboard takes into account multiple factors, like the population of priority groups, if vaccine sites are able to keep the vaccine frozen if necessary, how many residents a site can be vaccinated and the risk of illness or death in the community.

Gov. Kelly said she is trying to demystify the vaccine distribution process by continuing to build out the vaccine communication channel. She said her administration will continue to update the dashboard, but is also trying to add an interactive vaccine finder tool that will allow residents to see the closest vaccine provider as well as appointment information.

Dr. Lee Norman, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the federal government is responsible for allocating doses to states and the state is responsible for allocating doses to providers, as well as placing the dose order with the federal government. He said vaccines are shipped directly to local health departments, who then determine how to vaccinate the community.

Dr. Norman said there is a slow trickle of vaccines into Kansas, so he wanted to break down the vaccine journey. He said the manufacturer, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca, sends the vaccine to the distribution center, who then packages the vaccine doses with kits that include sanitary wipes and syringes and then they ship it to the administration sites who in turn use the kits to vaccinate patients.

According to Gov. Kelly, the State is set to receive 17,550 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 23,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine within the next week. She said while light at the end of the tunnel can be seen, there are still many months left of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Norman said the vaccine kits are especially important when it comes to the type of syringe used. He said five doses can be taken out of one bottle of the vaccine cocktail, but with a new syringe that includes more dead space, providers can get six doses out of one bottle.

According to Dr. Norman, a new strain of COVID-19 may already be present in Kansas. He said currently, the KDHE is using genome sequencing to identify variants of the virus, which spread faster and could be more severe. He said the state saw the number of inmates in the Winfield Correctional Facility that had been infected with COVID-19 drastically jump in a short amount of time. In response, he said the state wanted to know what was going on so it increased the number and capacity of its genomic sequencing, which will tell the KDHE what virus the variant came from and where it was originally found, such as the UK and South Africa. He said the state is still waiting to get results back from the Winfield facility genome sequences to see if there are any variants in the facility.

Jan. 27, 11:27 a.m.

Gov. Kelly to host COVID-19 update

Governor Laura Kelly will host a COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

Governor Laura Kellys says she will host a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 4 p.m., to discuss COVID-19 in the State of Kansas.

If you cannot view our video player, click here or watch along on our Facebook Live.

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