KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released its preliminary COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan Thursday, and it doesn’t appear the Kansas City VA Medical Center (KCVA) will receive doses in the first round of shipments.
The VA said it will to implement its plan at 37 locations nationwide once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives emergency use authorization on a vaccine.
Front line staff and veterans who are long-term residents will receive first priority for the vaccine.
The St. Louis VA Health Care System and Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, made the cut, but KCVA and all Kansas locations were left off the list.
The VA said it chose vaccine sites based on the locations’ potential to reach large numbers of people and store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures (the Pfizer vaccine must be kept at minus-70 Celsius).
Jackson County, Missouri, Executive Frank White Jr. said he was disappointed Kansas City is not among the 37 sites, considering its position in a metropolitan area of more than 2 million people.
“As the rate of deaths and infections continue to increase in Missouri, it is difficult to understand why the western part of the state was disregarded, leaving KCVA staff and veterans vulnerable to additional harm,” White said in a statement.
The VA said once vaccine supply has stabilized, it will expand the group of people it is vaccinating to the next-most vulnerable, though the department did not indicate if that also meant expanding to more locations.