Kansas has administered over two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, reaching the landmark just six weeks after Gov. Laura Kelly (D) opened eligibility for the vaccine to everyone 16 years and older.
About 43% of Kansans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Kelly and public health officials are continuing to urge residents to get vaccinated in order to return Kansas to normal activity.
“Kansas is making measurable progress getting shots in arms across the state, but we have more work to do to reach herd immunity and ensure Kansans get back to work, back to school, and back to normal,” Kelly said in a statement May 5. “Cases of COVID-19 variants are rising across the state. To maintain our recovery efforts, we must ensure that every Kansan is vaccinated.”
The state has continued making vaccination progress despite a temporary pause in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in April. Kansas resumed administration of the vaccine on April 26, after the CDC and Federal Drug Administration determined the vaccine was safe and effective even with six reports of a rare blood clotting disorder caused by the vaccine.
Vaccines are available in pharmacies and clinics across the state, including in Dillon’s grocery store pharmacies and CVS pharmacies. Kelly and state public health officials are pushing citizens to get vaccinated, as the national vaccine supply is beginning to outpace the demand, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The number of vaccines administered each day in Kansas has steadily declined since it hit its peak in late march, in part due to those who sought a vaccine receiving their first or second dose. Approximately 40,000 doses were administered on March 25, 23,700 of which were first doses, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. On May 5, just over 7,000 doses were administered, most of which were second doses.
“This is a great milestone for Kansas, but there is still more work to do,” said Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in a statement May 5. “We encourage all Kansans who have yet to be vaccinated to take that initial step to get vaccinated.”
Marshall County, in northeast Kansas, has the highest rate of vaccinations — about 468 per 1,000 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose, according to KDHE. Douglas County, which had the highest vaccination rate in the state in early April, has about 455 per 1,000 people vaccinated with at least one dose. Some counties in western Kansas have vaccinated between 200 and 300 people per 1,000 residents, and are among counties that have refused further vaccine shipments because of a decline in demand, Kansas Public Radio first reported.
Although daily inoculations are decreasing, Kansas may see an increase in vaccination rates after the FDA approves the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech for 12- to 15-year-olds. It is expected to approve the vaccine for children in the coming week, NPR reported.
KDHE confirmed 467 new cases of the coronavirus in the state, and 17 new deaths on May 7. It also confirmed the presence of a COVID-19 variant in 43 counties in the state — a total of 658 cases of a form of variant.
The health department classifies variants by three measures: variants of interest which have a predicted increase in transmission and severity, variants of concern for which there is evidence of increased transmission and severity of the disease and a significant reduction of neutralization to antibodies or a vaccine, and variants of high consequence which have clear evidence to prove previous medical treatment including antibodies and vaccines have significantly reduced effectiveness.
The state confirmed 33 variants of interest and 625 variants of concern on May 5. There are currently variants that match the criteria for variants of high consequence, according to KDHE. The United Kingdom coronavirus variant and the Brazilian variant have both been confirmed in the state.