KC-area health leader says Biden's COVID-19 vaccine plan is 'doable'

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine
Posted at 3:54 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 19:24:14-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City-area health experts are weighing in on President Joe Biden's announcement that he wants the all adults to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1.

"I will direct all states, tribes and territories to make all adults — people 18 and over — eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1," President Biden said Thursday.

Eligibility doesn't mean everyone will have the vaccine by May 1, Biden said.

"Let me be clear: That doesn't mean everyone's going to have that shot immediately, but it means you'll be able to get in line beginning May 1," Biden said.

Biden said he wants to return to a sense of normalcy by July 4. One local health leader is optimistic it can be done.

"I think it's certainly doable and we will put a big push on it," said Charlie Shields, president and CEO of Truman Medical Centers/University Health.

Shields said there is one issue which could hold Biden's plan up: vaccine supply.

In addition, states such as Kansas need to catch up.

Kansas is in Phase 2 of its vaccination distribution plan. According to data complied by the CDC and Becker's Hospital Review Kansas is ranked 49th in the country for its vaccination rate. Missouri sits at 24.

Shields said at Truman, health care professionals are vaccinating thousands of people each week.

He said getting people registered is key to making Biden's plan work.

"If we can move to what President Biden suggested, one central registry, I think that will be very helpful," Shields said.

And, it will be a community effort.

"We do this as a community. We do this as a hospital group in the metro. It will get us where we need to be," Shields said. "I think that target of July 4, when things return to normal as the president mentioned last night, I think it's very doable."