Kansas lawmakers review state’s lagging vaccine distribution
photo by: Associated Press
TOPEKA (AP) — Legislators are reviewing Kansas’ distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, though U.S. government data showed Monday that the state’s inoculation rate no longer lagged behind most other states.
Top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature were unhappy with what they considered a rocky vaccination rollout, in part because a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report at the end of December showed Kansas ranking last among states for its inoculation rate. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and officials in her administration said repeatedly that the state’s low ranking was because of slow reporting by vaccine providers.
The House and Senate health committees planned to have separate hearings Tuesday on the state’s vaccine distribution, only a day after the Legislature opened its annual 90-day session. A state Department of Health and Environment official was set to testify at both, and the House planned to hear from representatives of the Kansas Medical Society and a state association representing long-term care homes.
“Why is Kansas so far behind everybody else in getting things up and running?” asked Senate health committee Chair Richard Hilderbrand, a Galena Republican.
The CDC report Monday said about 35% of the 25.4 million doses distributed across the U.S. have been administered. In Kansas, the CDC’s figure is about 40%, with 77,217 vaccines given out of 192,200 doses distributed.
As of Dec. 31, Kansas had the lowest vaccination rate among states. The CDC said Monday that the state is now up to 2,650 shots per 100,000 residents and that 25 states have lower vaccination rates, including Missouri, where the rate is 2,445 per 100,000 residents.
Dr. Lee Norman, head of the state health department, said that as of last week, about 90,000 vaccinations probably had been given in Kansas. He and Kelly said providers have been concentrating on giving the shots first and reporting the data later. They’ve also said some providers were not fully trained on the system the state uses to provide data to the CDC.
“We need to keep politics out of the pandemic recovery,” said freshman state Sen. Ethan Corson, a Prairie Village Democrat. “It’s fair to have some oversight, but I don’t think that we want to politicize this and try to use this as an opportunity — as a cudgel — against the governor.”
Kansas had an average of 2,312 new confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases and 51 additional deaths a day for the seven days ending Monday, the state health department reported.
The state added 5,180 cases since Friday making its tally 247,502 since the start of the pandemic, or one for every 12 of the state’s 2.9 million residents. It reported another 107 deaths since Friday, making the total 3,255, or one for every 895 residents.