COVID-19 vaccines to start being distributed by mid December

Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 11:03 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly says vaccines for COVID-19 will start to be distributed in December.

Governor Laura Kelly says Kansas has seen a rise of 4,615 new cases of COVID-19 and 119 new deaths related to the virus. She said this brings the state’s total since the beginning of the pandemic to 162,061 cases and 1,583 deaths. She said health officials still do not know the full impact of Thanksgiving on the spread of the virus, but officials are preparing for a significant surge in cases.

According to Gov. Kelly, while case numbers may have dropped slightly, the strain on health systems has not. She said in the southwest region of Kansas there are no staffed ICU beds available. She said smaller rural hospitals continue to struggle to find staffed beds to transfer their critical COVID-19 patients to.

Gov. Kelly said since the vaccine is still in the early stages of production and deployment, she anticipates informational guidelines to rapidly evolve. She said emergency use authorized by the FDA for Pfizer could be authorized as soon as Dec. 10, while Maderna’s could see Dec. 14.

According to Gov. Kelly, Kansas is estimated to get 24,000 doses in its first shipment of the vaccine from Pfizer. She said the Pfizer shipment could arrive in Kansas as soon as mid December. She said the Maderna shipment should arrive shortly after that and both will send a shipment on a weekly basis. Gov. Kelly said she expects 150,000 doses by the end of December.

Gov. Kelly said the vaccine will be available first to high risk health care workers and nursing facilities. She said the second phase will go to non high risk adults over the age of 65. She said the third phase will go to Kansans that are non high risk under the age of 65.

According to the Kansas Governor, the Pfizer vaccines will be delivered to locations with ultracold storage while the Maderna vaccine will be delivered to other facilities. She said she will not release the location of the facilities for security reasons.

Gov. Kelly also said the vaccine will be free. She said providers may charge an administration fee for the process of giving the vaccine, but no one will be turned away due to not being able to afford it.

Gov. Kelly said she also understands that many Kansans may be worried about the vaccine. She said they have been tested on tens of thousands of people already and external advisory boards will also review the final vaccine data when it is made available. She said that while COVID-19 is new, the coronavirus is not. She said health professionals have been working on coronavirus vaccines for years. She said since COVID-19 is related to SARS, those lessons learned from SAS are being applied.

Gov. Kelly said ensuring residents have access to accurate information regarding the virus is part of her plan to stop the spread. She said the Kansas Leadership Center has over 700 commitments to do community discussions regarding COVID-19 safety.

Gov. Kelly said state and local public health officials have been working long hours under extreme pressure to develop guidelines that keep communities safe from COVID-19, however, they have been met with hostility. She said since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 27 health officials have since left their post. She said public health officials are community members as well and deserve the highest respect and gratitude. She said she will start to highlight the work of local public health officials during her weekly news conference to show appreciation.

This week, Gov. Kelly highlighted the work of the Wilson Co. public health officer, Jennifer McKenney. She said McKenney has been criticized and received threatening emails, all while she tries to keep her community safe by advocating for a mask mandate. She said Wilson Co. reversed course last week and decided to implement a public mask protocol.

Gov. Kelly said with the COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, this does not mean Kansans should take their eyes off of the pandemic. She said Kansans must continue to work to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Dec. 2, 11:03 a.m.

Gov. Kelly to host COVID-19 update

Governor Laura Kelly will host a COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

Governor Laura Kelly says she will host a news conference on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m. and will update the state regarding COVID-19.

Gov. Kelly said she will also be discussing the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state.

If you cannot view or video player, click here or watch along on our Facebook Live.

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