A COVID-19 vaccine is coming to Kansas soon. Here’s what we know

Titus Wu
Topeka Capital-Journal
Gov. Laura Kelly is joined Wednesday by Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman for a news conference in which she announced a three-stage approach to vaccine distribution in the state.

The time has come. It’s almost here.

A COVID-19 vaccine, which many are hoping will help end the pandemic, is about to come to Kansas.

The state is preparing to distribute such a vaccine very soon. Of course, the distribution plan will be in flux, as situations change and depending on when the virus actually arrives.

But here are some key points from the Gov. Laura Kelly’s first update Wednesday on the vaccine distribution plan.

When will it arrive? How much is coming in?

The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna could be authorized as soon as Dec. 10 and 14, respectively. As of now, Kansas is expecting 23,750 doses in its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine as soon as mid-December. As shipments continue weekly from both vaccine companies, Kansas is expecting around 150,000 doses by the end of this month.

One must remember one person may need two, not one doses, of the coronavirus vaccine.

Who is getting the vaccine first and when?

High-risk health care workers and nursing home residents will be the first in line. Groups may be added to that phase one group as the plan develops. The second phase of vaccine receivers will be those not at high risk and 65 years old or older. The third phase will be those not at high risk and under 65 years of age.

The state will try to get as much phase one folks vaccinated by the end of the month. Phase two and three will be administered on a rolling basis between winter and late spring.

How will the vaccine be distributed?

There will be around five distribution points across Kansas that are capable of using ultra-cold storage necessary for the vaccine. Locations were not disclosed for security reasons. From there, the vaccines will be transported to the various groups administering the vaccine to people.

Who is administering the vaccine?

More than 200 providers are in the process or have already signed up to administer the vaccine. Providers include hospitals, local health departments, federally qualified health centers/safety net clinics and retail pharmacies. Providers must meet certain licensing requirements, agree to conditions set forth on administering the vaccine by the CDC and must be able to provide certain key minimum data requirements.

Is it free?

Yes. However, providers may charge an administrative fee. But nobody can be turned away for not being able to pay.

Does the state have the money to distribute the vaccine?

Yes, for now, until the end of December when CARES Act spending expires. After that, the governor is calling on Congress to pass more relief funding.

Can we relax now?

No, says the governor. “The news of an upcoming vaccine does not mean we should take our foot of the gas,” she said, imploring Kansans to still social distance and mask up.

Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health and environment, answers questions related to a new vaccine distribution approach announced by Gov. Laura Kelly Wednesday at the Statehouse.