COVID-19 vaccinators fight to keep up with demand as new phases open

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 19:13:45-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — As of Monday, 880,000 more Missourians are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

In Kansas, that number is even greater with the state opening up eligibility to everyone aged 16 and over.

For companies like Hy-Vee, which is part of the federal retail pharmacy program, appointments are filling up fast.

Christina Gayman, director of public relations, said the company's weekly vaccine allocations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are continuing to increase week by week.

"Obviously under President Biden's directive for every adult to be eligible to receive the vaccine by May 1, you're seeing a lot of states making that move and you will see that continue over the next few weeks," Gayman said.

Gayman said the Hy-Vee is asking for patience as hundreds of thousands more Missourians and Kansans have become eligible.

"Our supply was increasing and keeping pretty good pace with those who were interested in receiving the vaccine over the last few weeks, and now we have this large group of individuals who are now eligible once again," Gayman said.

According to a spokesperson, as of two weeks ago, the Jackson County Health Department has about 10,000 people on its registration list still in need of a vaccine who are in Phase 1B Tier 2 and about 40,000 in Phase 1B Tier 3.

Across the state line in Wyandotte County, health officials are dealing with a different issue: the need for demand.

Currently, 14.8% of residents in the county have initiated vaccinations. That compares to the statewide rate of 26.7%.

Janell Friesen, public information officer for the Unified Government Public Health Department, said the county is fighting vaccine hesitancy to get the numbers up.

"People who aren't so sure how they feel about it, they maybe want to wait and see more people they know, their family, friends, neighbors who have been vaccinated," Friesen said. "I think there's also still a certain amount of distrust with health care and government, with good reason with some past injustices included and related to medical things."

Friesen said the county is encouraging anyone aged 16 and over interested in a vaccine to walk in to one of its sites with or without an appointment.