Kansas to enter accelerated Phases 3 and 4 of vaccine rollout

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Kansas will move on from Phase 2 and begin vaccinating essential workers in high-contact settings as well as younger individuals with severe health risks, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Monday. // Image courtesy of KDHE

Vaccination is about to open to nearly 600,000 Kansans.

Following Gov. Laura Kelly’s guidance, Kansas will move into a combined Phase 3 and 4 next week. This phase encompasses Kansans who are eligible for both of those phases at once, including workers in high-contact essential sectors and individuals with underlying health conditions.

The acceleration of vaccine rollout in Kansas, which ranked 29th in state vaccine distribution this morning, comes as the state anticipates a surge of Johnson & Johnson vaccine availability soon. It also follows President Joe Biden’s promise that every adult in the United States would be eligible for vaccination by May 1. Counties will have the rest of this week to continue vaccinating Kansans in Phases 1 and 2.

“This expedited timeline will allow Kansans to get back to work, back to school, and back to a more normal way of life,” Gov. Kelly says. “I urge all Kansans to do their part by getting vaccinated when it is their turn and continuing to follow the public health guidance, so we can return back to normal.”

As changes in vaccine distribution plans occur on the state level, some Kansas lawmakers are pushing for counties to have the ability to ignore Kansas guidelines altogether. Republican lawmakers proposed a bill that would let counties set their own timelines for vaccine distribution.

In response to frustration from lawmakers that essential workers have been prioritized over younger individuals with notable health risks, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman stated the prioritization choice was made with the effects of spread across the community as a whole in mind.

“It is a value judgment, no question about it,” Norman says. “It tugs at our heartstrings to have people with illnesses who are not vaccinated yet.”

KDHE reports 567,801 residents have received at least one dose so far and 287,021 are fully vaccinated as of Tuesday. Kansans can find information about receiving the vaccine and find their provider here.

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