TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)— As states across the country begin to mobilize the National Guard in an effort to speed up coronavirus vaccine distribution, some Kansas lawmakers agree that while the guard may not be needed yet, it would be a good option to get the state’s vaccine rollout process moving.
“If we come into a critical situation where we need to get the vaccines out in a faster fashion, then we could possibly look into the National Guard in administering vaccinations,” said Representative Troy Waymaster, (R) Bunker Hill, adding there may be a better use for the guard at this time.
Monday marked the first day of the legislative session, where the coronavirus is set to be among the most pressing issues. At the end of December, the federal government showed Kansas was last among states for how fast it was distributing shots. However, as of Monday, CDC data shows the state has made progress. So far, 77, 217 first doses of the shot have been distributed.
As the pressure for states to rollout vaccines increases, states like Indiana and Oregon have most recently called on the National Guard to aid in the vaccine distribution process. Some news reports show national guardsmen administering shots, or training others to do so. An idea some Kansas lawmakers believe could help streamline distribution in the state if necessary.
“If that additional man and woman power is needed to administer this vaccine, I’m sure that the guard’s ready to respond,” said Representative John Carmichael, (D) Wichita.
Some states have hesitated to call on the National Guard as to not strike fear into people who may be distrustful of the vaccine. According to University of Kansas researcher Dr. Brett Bricker, the use of the National Guard could elicit both positive and negative public reactions.
“It will cause more anxiety or fear for some people,” Dr. Bricker said. “But for some people that don’t take it seriously enough, the heightened sense of emergency that’s associated with a national service member might actually add a heightened benefit to their inclusion.”
Currently, the Kansas National Guard is not delivering vaccines but is helping deliver coronavirus tests from across the state to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment testing facilities.
“There are no plans at this time to have Guardsmen deliver and/or administer the vaccines,” said Jane Welch, a spokesperson for the Kansas Army National Guard.