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Sedgwick County leaders expecting more vaccine doses, question discrepancy

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 5:03 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The state of Kansas said rural counties are getting more COVID-19 vaccine than urban areas like Sedgwick County. This has county commissioners asking why. The Sedgwick County Commission held a special meeting Friday to discuss the issue after which Eyewitness News confirmed Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s office that Sedgwick County will be receiving up to 3,500 additional “catch-up” doses next week.

Put simply, Sedgwick County has about 18 percent of the state’s population, but is only getting about 9 percent of the vaccine allotments for the state. Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis said he’s tried to get answers from the state about vaccine distribution, but is getting nowhere. His question: Why isn’t Sedgwick County getting the same percentage of vaccines as other counties?

He said he received a lengthy answer from the Kansas Association of Counties that he said “doesn’t answer a very, very simple question.”

“Can we get 18 percent of the vaccines coming into the state? So, that’s the question that’s open,” Dennis said.

The state received about 80,000 vaccine doses from the federal government this week. Sedgwick County only received 7,000 of those doses. That’s half of what the county should receive, based on population.

“From the start, there’s been a discrepancy from the federal supply chain to the states,” Sedgwick County Commission Chair Pete Meitzner said. “...I call it miscommunication or not knowing what they’re going to get. And then they can only tell us what they’re going to give us after what they know what they’re going to get.”

At their meeting Friday, Sedgwick County commissioners also declared a state of local disaster emergency from the extreme winter weather the county faced over the past few weeks.

“Its’ important for us to declare an emergency so that we can tap into FEMA funds,” Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse said. “We have customers in this community who are seeing increased rates of gosh, 200 to 300 percent in their bill.”

Sedgwick County said the money would go to those affected by the weather. Allotments for staff in school districts in Sedgwick County were also discussed by commissioners. The county said about 12,000 staff members said they want the vaccine and they’re hoping to get all of their first doses done in the next three weeks.

Next week, Sedgwick County will receive about 10,000 to 11,000 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including the approximate 3,500 of the “catch-up” doses from Pfizer.

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