Just two weeks after vaccines in Kansas opened up to all residents 16 years and older, over 400,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine were administered, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
When Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced on March 26 that all Kansans aged 16 and older would qualify for a vaccine, 1,067,865 doses had been administered in the state. According to KDHE’s weekly vaccine update, which updates every Thursday, 1,435,128 doses had been administered as of April 8. The total includes doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
“With the anticipated increase in supply from the federal government, we must get every dose of vaccine into arms quickly,” Kelly said when she announced the move to Phase 5 of the state’s vaccination plan.
Kansas was the eighth state to open vaccines to anyone 16 and older, Kelly said.
In Douglas County, almost 30,000 residents are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC — the most of any county in Kansas. Lawrence Douglas County Public Health has hosted biweekly vaccine clinics at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, where a majority of residents have received their vaccine, said LDCPH spokesman George Diepenbrock.
Nai Duran, a junior at the University of Kansas from Aurora, Colorado, got her vaccine at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
“I had literally no expectations because I originally wasn’t scheduled for my first vaccination. I was called super last minute by a friend who was there telling me they had extra vaccines,” Duran said. “The system was really great and efficient.”
The county is hoping to vaccinate as many college students as possible, Diepenbrock said.
“We’re interested in making sure that as many college-aged students, KU, Baker, get vaccinated, especially before the end of the semester,” Diepenbrock said. “Hopefully by the fall we can have as many people vaccinated as possible and things will look a little back to normal.”
KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said in a University Senate meeting last week that currently the university is not planning on requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for students, the Lawrence Times first reported.
Several Kansas Board of Regents schools are administering vaccines through their on-campus health centers. KU, Kansas State University and Wichita State University all offer vaccinations through their health centers. Pittsburg State University held vaccine clinics with county officials to provide vaccines to students, faculty and staff.
But while many Kansans are getting vaccinated, coronavirus case numbers are continuing to rise in the state. There were 469 new recorded cases, six new deaths, and 28 new hospitalizations Friday, according to KDHE.
Public health officials are still wary of new coronavirus variants. The United Kingdom variant, which scientists found spreads much more quickly than the original, was found in Kansas in February. Despite the appearance of the variant, Kansas GOP lawmakers passed a resolution opposing Kelly’s state-wide mask mandate.
“The pandemic isn’t over, Kansas,” Kelly said in a tweet Friday. “Keep wearing masks, physically distancing, and roll up your sleeves to get the vaccine. It will take all of us to get our state back to normal.”