KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas and Missouri are moving into new phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, but lingering frustration remains about people not being able to get inoculated fast enough.
Many people who are eligible to receive the vaccine now have reported having trouble signing up for or receiving vaccinations for months now.
Others who are patiently waiting for their turn in the various phased rollout plan see the frustration and are concerned they'll face the same challenges when it's their turn.
"(It) kind of gives me a small amount of anxiety," Bonner Springs resident Kathy Carroll said.
The vaccination rates are slowing inching up every day in Kansas and Missouri. According to data from state health departments, 12.84% of Missouri residents have received at least one vaccine dose and 12.66% of Kansas residents have received one dose.
Gov. Mike Parson announced Thursday that Missouri will be enter into Phase 1B Tier 3 beginning March 15, which will make more than 550,000 state residents eligible to receive the vaccine. That group includes teachers, child care workers and grocery store employees.
Kansas City-area health care leaders said when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved, and it received a key approval Friday from an FDA panel, it will be a game changer with respect to getting more people vaccinated.
"I think we're seeing the vaccines, at least in our mind, are going to start to loosen up here in the next two or three weeks in terms of availability," Charlie Shields, president and CEO of Truman Medical Centers, said, "and we think that's a positive step."
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only one dose, which will simplify logistics for health departments and providers.
"It's 50% less work that we have to do, so that's good," Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said. "But also more importantly, it should push supply."
Increasing supply is what health leaders responsible for the vaccination effort in Kansas and Missouri believe will eventually lead to herd immunity. Those same health care experts urge people not to be picky.
"Don't do vaccine shopping," Shields said. "Just get it done, and we'll get to where we want to be by by hopefully late spring or summer."