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Kansas health secretary notes state vaccination lag as president’s July 4 target approaches

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — As President Biden’s U.S. mass vaccination target approaches, Kansas Health Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said the state will not be meeting the president’s goal.

Biden’s administration initially set the goal of vaccinating 70% of adults in the U.S. with at least one dose by July 4. As the White House reported that the administration will fall short of that goal, the plan shifted to vaccinating that same percentage of people 27 and up.

“We’re not reaching that,” Norman said. “Most states are not actually reaching that, but we’re not letting up on our push to make sure that everyone that has the desire to get vaccinated can get vaccinated.”

According to Kansas health officials, the state has seen a “slow down” or “plateau” in vaccinations. As of Thursday, CDC numbers show that 53.3% of people ages 18 and older in the state have been fully vaccinated; 62% have received at least one shot.

Norman said the state is continuing to encourage people to get vaccinated. That includes grassroots efforts and incentives, and helping hospitals and healthcare providers in rural areas with outreach efforts, as officials have identified a healthy number of people that are hesitant to get vaccinated.

“We are not letting up on the gas,” Norman said. “People that are sick in hospitals and dying, they have not been vaccinated.”

The push for people to get vaccinated becomes more urgent, as the state has seen an “increasing” number of cases linked to the Delta variant, a highly contagious variant of COVID-19 that originated in India. The variant is expected to become more prevalent than the U.K. variant in the U.S., according to some health officials.

Secretary Norman said the state does plan to meet the goal eventually. He hopes people will become less hesitant as vaccines are fully approved by the F.D.A., past emergency use authorization.

“It’s becoming very clear, and, even people that have been resistant a little bit, are understanding that vaccinated people are just not getting sick and dying,” Norman said.

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