Governor Laura Kelly announced on Sunday, March 28, that starting from March 29, 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for all Kansans above 16. With this announcement, Kansas's state entered into phase 5, i.e., the final phase of vaccination.
Alaska was the first state to enter the final stage of vaccination early this march. Along with seven other states, Kansas will be the eighth state to open vaccine eligibility to all adults. This achievement makes a move forward towards the target of President Joe Biden's goal of opening up eligibility to all adults in the U.S. by May 1.
According to a statement of Gov. Kelly, "With the anticipated increase in supply from the federal government, we must get every dose of vaccine into arms quickly." In this regard, the governor's office mentioned how limited federal supply led to the vaccine's demand during the initial stages of the vaccination program (December 2020 – February 2021). Fortunately, supply has increased from early March. This may be why the Local Health Departments (LHDs) and other providers have reported a decline in demand despite the state declared for Phase 3 and 4 of vaccination. Additionally, the Kelly administration is always trying to ensure that no vaccine is wasted.
Till March 26 total of 35.1% of the adult population of Kansas had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 13.3% of Kansans are fully vaccinated. With the official announcement of the fifth stage of vaccination, Governor Kelly also encouraged citizens to get vaccinated. This final phase vaccination program means about 400,000 additional Kansans will be eligible for the vaccine. To date, as per the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kansas ranks 37th in the country for vaccine doses administered per capita.
Every county of the state quickly responded with this announcement. Most of the county administrations announced that they are ready to get aligned with the state's plan. The Sedgwick County (second largest in the state) Commissioner Pete Meitzner was very satisfied with Kelly's work on vaccination.
According to his own words, "We need any citizens that have not been vaccinated to please get vaccinated. If you're hesitant for whatever reason, you can call, you can talk to your doctors; I think all the doctors in the community are saying we get vaccinated." He also remained about the seriousness of this virus. Also requested people to tell about the vaccine and make sure that every family member gets the dose on time.
Initially, Republicans in the state of Legislature criticized Kelly's administration regarding rolling out vaccination in the state. But later, this announcement was praised by the opposition party. While commenting on Kelly's announcement, Republican lawmakers suggested that they would be happier if this initiative has happened earlier.
A Republican member of the Kansas House of Representatives, Brenda Landwehr, "I am glad Kelly is finally recognizing that we need to move forward and make sure that we are at least getting the vaccine to those that are willing to get it." Republican senator of Kansas State, who chairs the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, welcomed Kelly's announcement as well.
Before the announcement from Gov. Kelly's side, 100,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were anticipated to arrive. However, as per a news release from the agency, the actual figure was 16,500. Change in "production issues" at the national level was marked as the main reason behind this discrepancy. Although as per the governor's report, this supply deficiency is already solved, and hence the final stage of vaccination is declared.