Kansas lung cancer patient frustrated by wait for COVID-19 vaccine

Covid Lungs
Posted at 4:48 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 20:04:43-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Frustration is setting in for many people who are trying to get their COVID-19 vaccine.

For weeks, Kansas resident Colene Cords has been trying to sign up but cannot at this time.

Cords told 41 Action News that she has Stage 4 lung cancer that has metastasized to her brain.

“You throw COVID in on top of that and you know, you're sitting here super scared to go anywhere," Cords said.

In the distribution plan for Kansas, Cords isn't eligible for the vaccine until Phase 3, which won't begin until at least the end of March, according to the state.

“If we didn't have a shortage, we wouldn't have phases and we'd open it up far more broadly than we're able to now," said Marci Nielsen, chief adviser to Gov. Laura Kelly.

After receiving a number of questions surrounding the vaccine phases in Kansas, 41 Action News asked Nielsen how the state determined the phases.

“It's not because those individuals aren't very important, it's not that we aren't worried about their health," Nielsen said about those with severe illnesses. "There were a few reasons why (the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) went the direction that they did. One is from a risk perspective, from a science perspective, they aren't at highest risk because often those individuals aren't out in the public and being exposed."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cancer patients have an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“You know, the number one thing about COVID it affects is your breathing, which would be lung cancer, so I would think that it would be something to be considered as an exception," Cords said.

Supply continues to impact the speed of the vaccine rollout, and the wait has caused growing frustration for many like Cords.

“You know, I don't feel great all the time, but I am spending every day trying to navigate this," she said.

Meanwhile, Nielsen said there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“It's important for people to understand that the vaccine is coming and we haven't forgotten them," Nielsen said.