KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Beginning Monday, all Kansas residents who are 16 years old or older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Friday.
The state, which is currently in Phase 3 and 4 of its vaccine distribution plan, will move to Phase 5 — the state's final phase — next week.
“With the anticipated increase in supply from the federal government, we must get every dose of vaccine into arms quickly,” Kelly said in a statement. “I strongly encourage every Kansan to get the COVID-19 vaccine so we can get back to school, back to work, and back to normal.”
Kansas joins Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Utah and West Virginia in making the COVID-19 vaccine available to all adults in the state.
Health leaders in Kansas part of the reasoning was that they felt confident in how many vaccines were coming into the state.
"We’ve just made such great progress," said Dr. Lee Norman, director of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Norman said many counties have vaccinated a large portion of their population already and the state didn't want to hold them back.
"One of the reasons we moved it to (Phase) 5 is because there are places that are not able to fill their existing spots," he said.
More populated counties, which are running behind in vaccinated those already eligible, can still prioritize people from the previous phases.
"One of the things I hope is that people will be understanding," Norman said. "It’s not a light switch that all of a sudden they can just walk in to a doctor's office or vaccinating site but to go through the registration process."
Still, it's a welcome step forward in the eyes of many Kansas residents.
"I feel pretty excited about it," Kansas resident Karen Oatman said.
Katherine Fedotin, who also lives in Kansas, said, "I am very thrilled, and everyone I know is very thrilled, about this next step to, I guess, get everyone protected."
Dusty Kossen said appointments so far have been hard to come by, so he hopes that will change beginning next week.
"I think it’s a great thing they’re opening it up for everybody,," Kossen, a Kansas resident, said. "There’s so many restrictions right now it’s hard to get in."
For more information on locating vaccines clinics in Kansas, residents can look for an appointment on the state's Vaccine Finder and there is more information about vaccine opportunities on the 41 Action News vaccine planner.