KCMO Health Department: Appointments are key in avoiding vaccine line jumpers

KCMO Health Department
Posted at 8:59 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 10:00:14-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed on a priority basis to first responders and healthcare workers in Kansas City.

Demand for the vaccine is high, but supply is low. The concern from health experts is desperation to get vaccinated may result in people falsifying information to move up in priority groups.

"That's been happening around the state in some places where they've been letting people in who obviously aren't on the priority list," explained Dr. Rex Archer, director of the Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department. "We think it's not fair to our citizens to do that here, so yes we will be doing some verification and checking."

41 Action News asked other health departments in the Kansas City metro if vaccine line jumpers have been a problem.

A spokesperson with Johnson County said there's no issue and the county checks employment documents and licenses to verify identity.

Dr. Archer said the department has been using appointments in the first phase of the vaccination process along with staff relying on a trust, but verify model.

"In the scale of what we've been doing right now, you know there hasn't been a lot of opportunity to kind of misrepresent yourself. But with the threat potentially there and the threat goes up, folks see, 'Well, they're doing it everyplace else, so why shouldn't I?'" Archer said.

The health director added that documentation is not required at this time for people getting vaccinated, but the staff has other ways to verify identity in the proper priority group.

"We've got to make a judgment call, do they look like they're lying or not, and if we think they are, or you know you can sometimes ask a couple of questions and pretty quickly figure out if they're really a healthcare worker or not," Archer said.

Archer said his health department is receiving roughly 1,000 vaccines a week. He said the vaccine should be available to the general population in late May at the earliest.