High-risk Kansans still waiting for COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Topeka and Vaccine
Posted at 10:22 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 23:37:00-05

TOPEKA, Kan. — As soon as Kansas moved to Phase 2 of its COVID-19 vaccination plan, Holly Bradley and her parents started filling out vaccine interest forms.

Bradley’s parents live in Johnson County. They are 75 and 76, with underlying health conditions .But despite being eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 2, Bradley’s parents still have not been able to secure an appointment to receive the vaccine.

“We signed up through (Johnson) County. We signed up through all of the hospitals. We’ve signed up through all of the pharmacies,” Bradley said. “I check those daily, I check those hourly every day. I set alarms to go off overnight to check at midnight to see if appointments open and we just have had no luck at all.”

Lindsay Anthony also is having trouble securing an appointment for her husband, who is 73.

Anthony has filled out various COVID-19 vaccine interest forms at the University of Kansas Health System, Advent Health, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens. Her husband has yet to receive a link for a vaccine appointment.

“We haven’t heard anything yet, so we just want the facts," she said. "Are we doing it right? Are we missing a step?"

During Tuesday’s University of Kansas Health System media briefing, Dr. Lee Norman was asked about individuals who are 70 and older and have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’ve had enough vaccine for all of those people to be vaccinated,” said Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “I don’t think it’s a vaccine volume going into a county, for example, that’s the problem. I think it’s the fact that the individual or a couple living in their homes, they should have long ago been vaccinated quiet honestly but they’re not good at accessing the internet and finding a website they can click on to register.”

Anthony and Bradley disagreed.

“My parents are both very savvy with the internet, and I am acting as their advocate, even though they don’t need one, and we’re still not able to (get an appointment),” Bradley said.

41 Action News spoke with Norman Wednesday afternoon in Topeka, and asked about his previous statements. On Wednesday, he said the reasons some Kansans who are 70 and older and have not been vaccinated is because “there is just not enough vaccine to go around.”

“Phase 2 is the largest phase in terms of the total number of people, but the counties have a considerable amount of say,” he said.

Both Bradley and Anthony’s loved ones live in Johnson County.

JCDHE Director Dr. Sanmi Areola told 41 Action News through email that JCDHE is currently vaccinating those who are 80 and older, school personnel and child care providers.

“JCDHE is currently vaccinating those who are 80+ years old, who are the most vulnerable of our population and have poorer outcomes due to the virus," he wrote. "School personnel and child care providers are also being vaccinated in this group since it is important to have children in school and have childcare available to families so parents and caregivers can work."

Vaccine appointments are created as soon as a vaccine is available, according to Areola.

He and others in the county anticipate opening vaccine appointments to those who are 65 and older in the next week, as health officials complete inoculating those who are 80 and older.

“Everybody just needs to know all of the facts," Anthony said. "I think that would help the process."