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Vaccine arrives in Kansas as COVID-19 cases continue climb

Titus Wu
Topeka Capital-Journal
Pictured are some of the containers Kansas is using to provide ultra-cold storage for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The coronavirus vaccine has arrived in Kansas.

Ascension Via Christi, one of the larger providers of health services in the state, said on Facebook that five of its health care workers in Wichita had received the vaccine Monday.

This comes as Kansas saw 4,724 new cases, 95 new hospitalizations and 37 new deaths related to COVID-19 since last Friday, according to the state’s virus dashboard.

There have been over 190,000 cases and over 2,100 deaths in the state since COVID-19 was first tracked.

Other hospitals and medical centers are anticipating the vaccine’s arrival soon. In Topeka, Stormont Vail hospital simply said it has not yet received the vaccine.

The University of Kansas Health System is expecting it Monday or Tuesday, according to a spokesperson. Once the system receives it, vaccination will likely begin immediately.

Within the health system, the vaccine will go in order, from health care workers exposed to the coronavirus the most to those exposed the least. Nobody is being forced to take the vaccine, and demand will likely outweight supply, a spokesperson added.

The deployment to hospitals goes according to plan, where front-line health workers are slated to be the highest priority in receiving the first doses.

The governor confirmed shipments of the vaccine have arrived at a news conference, though it is expected that Wednesday is when vaccinations will start ramping up. Other states also confirmed vaccine arrivals on Monday.

Next week, Kansas will receive its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine and second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine if things go according to plan.

While this is ongoing, Kansas is also making some changes to its communication plan regarding the pandemic. Spurred by the governor and legislative leaders, each region of Kansas will give weekly Tuesday updates to state leaders on how COVID-19 is faring locally.

“This new reporting system will be another tool that my administration can use to keep Kansans healthy, protect small businesses and keep our schools open,” said Gov. Laura Kelly.

Jon Rolph, a Wichita community leader, will chair the seven regional calls and then update the State Finance Council on Wednesdays. Calls will be accessible to the public and be on Youtube.

In addition, with the end of the year approaching, the spending deadline for federal COVID-19 relief money is nearing.

As money gets pushed out the door quicker to meet that deadline, Kansas has opened up a hotline to report any abuse or fraud of CARES Act money. One can report by visiting: https://covid.ks.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse/.