Crawford County to move to Phase 3 and 4 of COVID-19 vaccine distribution starting Monday
PITTSBURG, Kan. — Kansas is moving forward with its COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Governor Laura Kelly announced Monday.
Kelly announced that Kansas will be moving to Phase 3 and 4 of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan starting Monday, March 22. These phases target people 16 to 64 years old with preexisting conditions such as cancer, heart conditions and diabetes; and also targets non-healthcare essential workers including those in agriculture, food, government, social services, and utilities who have not been included in previous phases.
“Thanks to an increased supply in vaccine, Kansas will begin vaccinating individuals who qualify in either Phase 3 or Phase 4 on March 22,” Kelly said in a press release. “This expedited timeline will allow Kansans to get back to work, back to school, and back to a more normal way of life. 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.”
This shift in policy, by the governor, comes after weeks of criticism from state legislators, calling for her to release more vaccines to the public, and move the start forward in its distribution.
Sen. Richard Hildebrand (R-Galena), who chairs the Kansas Senate’s Public Health and Welfare committee, even introduced legislation last week to overturn the governor’s “policy of withholding doses of COVID-19 vaccines from counties wanting to move to a new phase of inoculations before the rest of the state,” which he called “blackmail or extortion” according to an article from the Associated Press.
However, following the governor’s latest announcement, Hildebrand said he was happy with the move.
“I am glad to see that the governor is finally taking steps to get the covid vaccinations to our most vulnerable Kansans,” he said to the Morning Sun.
Following the announcement, health officials in Crawford County are gearing up for the next wave of distribution. This comes after they announced last week that the county was running out of Phase 2 people to vaccinate.
“We’re pretty excited that we’re going to be able to open to Phase 3 and 4,” said Deputy Health Officer Teddi Van Kam at the Crawford County Commission meeting Tuesday. “It’s not always been easy, and we’ve had to turn some people away that were on the fence, but this [announcement] kind of changes that and we can be more free with giving the vaccine.”
Van Kam said more vaccination clinics will be scheduled as soon as possible, and hopefully, the county will be receiving more doses of the vaccine as well.
“We are in the process of making plans for clinics,” she said. “We will have one at PHS [Pittsburg High School] next Wednesday while they’re on spring break.”
Health Department Consultant Janis Goedeke said all the clinics will continue to be by appointment to ensure that they don’t waste doses.
“Pretty much we always have to have appointments,” she said, “because when we open that vial, we have ten doses and six hours to use it.”
The county commissioners were also thrilled with the announcement and praised the health department for all the work they did to get to this point.
“That’s fantastic,” Commissioner Tom Moody said. “We are so lucky to have the health department that we do. They have led us through this pandemic from start to finish, and it possibly looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Jordan Meier is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org