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‘We had a problem’: Vaccine troubles across the state

Coronavirus in Kansas

NESS COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – From delayed shipments to none at all, health departments across the state are coming across bumps in the road when it comes to vaccine distribution. 

In Ness County, dozens of vaccines were expected to be delivered right before Christmas, but when they didn’t arrive, Public Health Administrator Carolyn Gable said she knew something was wrong. 

“I received a call from the immunization person out of Dodge City, and she said I am calling about your COVID vaccine,” said Carolyn Gabel. “She said well we’ve had a problem, and I said, ‘well I know I don’t have it, where is it? She said it ended up in Garden City and goes but the cold chain was broken.”

Ness County’s vaccines were ruined. 

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, “the shipment that was received by Finney County, a hub for the surrounding areas, arrived with the temperature indicator displaying a Temperature Excursion in transit. The vaccine was quarantined, we were notified by Finney County, and the vaccine manufacturer was notified. The manufacturer deemed the vaccine non-viable and a replacement order was shipped to them. We do not have any other reports of temperature excursions directly from the distributor.”

After the replacement order was shipped, Ness County was a week behind. 

“We vaccinated the ones that we knew we needed to do. Some were health care workers, some were volunteer firefighters,” said Gabel. 

The county was able to use up the rest of the allotment of the vaccine Wednesday. 

Gabel said the county has even vaccinated some teachers. She said after initially speaking with a Kansas Association of Local Health Department representative, she said she was advised that if health care workers were vaccinated, vaccinating teachers, grocery workers, and postal workers would be okay. 

She said the guidance has since changed many times but didn’t want to waste the vials. 

 “I don’t want to try and reallocate one vial of the vaccine when I can use it for people that are willing to take it here,” said Gabel. 

Gabel said she expects to get the second doses soon, but now she’s waiting for more vaccines for those 65 and older. 

Sedgwick County is nearing the same holding pattern. 

Health Director Adrienne Byrne said after administering more than 5,000 vaccines, Sedgwick County could run out by next week. 

Both said they could use more doses, but with limited information, it’s not clear when it will come. 

“That’s difficult for people to understand when I tell them I don’t know but that’s just the truth of it,” said Gabel. 

Gabel said all long term care facilities have been taken care of as well.

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