TOPEKA, Kan.– More people in Kansas are eligible to get shots now that the state has moved into Phase 2 of its vaccine plan.
Dr. Marci Nielsen, Gov. Laura Kelly’s special advisor on vaccine distribution, spoke with KSNT News to clarify that the state is giving as much local control as possible to counties and hospitals to determine who gets the vaccine first. The state’s Phase 2 defines three major categories of people who can get the shot:
- People aged 65 and older
- High-contact critical workers
- People living or working in congregate settings
While the Phase 2 definition gives some examples of high-contact critical workers like police officers, grocery store workers and people in meat processing plants, Nielsen said counties may prioritize vaccinating specific groups of people first based on their area’s core industries.
“Phase 2 in Sedgwick County, for example, includes aviation workers. But that might not be a priority in a county that doesn’t have any aviation. The goal is sort of piggybacking off of what we know worked in states that have a decentralized public health system… The eyes on the prize is getting people vaccinated.”
Per the state’s plan, anyone older than 65 is eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 2. But counties and local hospitals can make decisions about prioritization within that group as well. For example, Stormont Vail Health in Topeka is now vaccinating anyone 65 and older, but only if they are an existing Stormont Vail patient. County health departments like Geary County’s have also said they will prioritize seniors that are residents within their county.
With local control over the vaccine, the takeaway is that Kansans who want to get the vaccine need to check with their county health departments for guidance on who can get the shots first in the area. Residents with healthcare through local hospitals should also check who they will vaccinate, and see if they prioritize patients first.
KSNT News has a guide to find each local county and hospital’s online sign-up sheets, as well as phone numbers to call about the vaccine. Each listing says who each local provider is giving vaccinations to right now.