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Gov. Kelly joins in push for more vaccines to be distributed to states

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — In a letter sent to national health secretary Alex Azar, and Chief Operating Officer for Operation Warp Speed, Gustave Perna on Friday, Governor Laura Kelly along with seven other state governors, urged the federal government to take more action on coronavirus vaccine rollout.

“Our states are ready to work around the clock to ramp up distribution, get more shots in
arms, and save more American lives,” the eight Democratic governors wrote, urging the national government to send more vaccines to states.

The letter notes the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed group’s decision to hold back the second shots for the two-dose vaccines to guarantee people get a second dose, and ‘mitigate situations’ in vaccine distribution. The federal government has held back upwards of 50% of the current vaccines.

“The failure to distribute these doses to states who request them is unconscionable and
unacceptable,” the governors wrote. “We demand that the federal government begin distributing these reserved doses to states immediately.”

President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he will begin releasing available doses immediately, according to a statement from spokesman T.J. Ducklo. This reverses the Trump administration’s original policy for Operation Warp Speed.

This comes as Kansas has faced obstacles in the vaccine distribution process, initially ranking low in rolling out vaccines. According to Gov. Kelly, the state has run into issues with reporting numbers, as hospitals focus on getting the shot to healthcare workers and people living and working in nursing homes.

In a morning call, she said the most recent data shows the state has administered 45,872 doses of the vaccine, saying the state is working with hospitals to make sure the data is reported effectively to federal health leaders.

“Some of our larger vaccinators and some of our major hospitals have been more focused on actually getting the shots out versus the data in, so we’re working to ensure that we get both things done,” Gov. Kelly said.

According to Kelly, the state is working with more than 300 healthcare providers to administer vaccinations. Kansans who received the first dose in the state’s initial round of shots, received their second doses this week.

However, the unexpected lag in rollout has left some state and local leaders, criticizing the federal government’s handling of the distribution process.

“Dr. Azar and other people at the CDC and at the National Institutes of Health promised us that as soon as the vaccine was ready, it would be transported immediately, military, aircrafts were standing by… it did not happen,” said state Representative John Carmichael, D-Wichita, in an interview with Kansas’ Capitol Bureau on Friday.

The state is expecting to get another shipment from Pfizer and Moderna next week, about 17,000 doses from each manufacturer.

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