Here's The Latest On Where And How To Get A COVID Vaccine In Kansas

Jan 22, 2021

More than one in 10 Kansans have gotten at least their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. But that still leaves well over 2 million people who haven't even begun their two-dose vaccinations.

When and where will their chance come?

The Kansas News Service will update this article on the vaccine rollout and availability as the situation develops. So consider bookmarking it to check back for updates.

Below, you’ll also find graphs to help you keep track of how bad COVID is in Kansas right now.

Who can get the vaccine in Kansas?

Kansas is in “Phase 2” of its vaccine plan.

Phase 2 includes people over the age of 65, teachers, prison workers and inmates and many others. But that's 1 million people, and supplies remain limited. So counties can choose how to prioritize among those groups.

Here are the state’s phases for rolling out the vaccine, and its ballpark timeline. Precise dates will depend on how many doses arrive each week.

Phases in the state's vaccine plan.

How does Kansas define groups like “high-contact critical workers”?

Here are detailed explanations for some of the squishier terms used in the chart above.

Getting the shot from a county health department

Supplies of the vaccine remain limited. For now, the state receives about 80,000 doses a week. (About half of each week's doses go to people who've already had their first dose and are awaiting their second.) 

The state's weekly allotment gets split up among the counties. You can see how many doses have been sent to your county here.

Different counties are working through the process differently.

Sedgwick, for example, asked people over the age of 90 to sign up first. Then people 80 and over.  Johnson County created a broader vaccine interest form and sorted through it, picking those over the age of 80 first.

Some counties, like Wyandotte, held off on giving shots based on age. They decided to focus first on people who work in jobs that make them likely to contract and spread the disease (such as police, teachers and grocery workers).

Check whether your county health department has a sign-up sheet. Here are a few examples.

  • Coffey County posted a sign-up form on its Facebook page.
  • Johnson County posted a form here.
  • Sedgwick County posted a form here.
  • Shawnee County posted a form here.
  • Wyandotte County posted a form here.

When it's your turn, don't be surprised if you're asked to head to an old, repurposed big box store, the county fair grounds or an expo center. Counties had to get creative to set up large vaccine clinics with plenty of social distancing.

You also may need to keep a keen eye on your county health department’s announcements on Facebook and other platforms. When Douglas County opened its first 500 slots for Phase 2, people grabbed up all the slots within minutes, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

Getting the shot at a hospital

Some counties send some of the stock they receive each week to local hospitals or clinics, and ask them to give the shots to their patients who meet Phase 2 criteria. Kansas has launched an online map where you can see if a hospital or other site near you offers the vaccine. If so, ask how you can get in line.

Getting the shot at a pharmacy

Some major pharmacy chains have started receiving doses through a separate federal program that bypasses the state health department to send doses directly to retail sites.

The first supplies, about 10,000 doses, went out to fewer than 100 Kansas drug stores the week of Feb. 8.

Figuring out where those retail doses are available may not be easy. Kansas links to the list of participating stores here. That list may change over time as the federal program grows. If you see a location near you on the list (and you qualify to get the vaccine in Phase 2), try calling the store or booking a dose through the pharmacy chain's website.

What about doctor's offices and independent pharmacies?

Once more doses are available, a wider variety of places may well give the shots. When that happens, you'll see those locations show up on the Kansas vaccine map, too.

Right now, many places don’t know when Kansas or the federal government will include them. Many are eagerly seeking information from public health officials.

What will the vaccine cost me? What if I don’t have health insurance?

The federal government is distributing the doses to states for now. You won’t get charged for those.

No one should charge you a fee for sticking the needle in your arm, either. Your insurance company may pay something for that, but not you. If you have no insurance, the hospital or pharmacy can bill a special federal fund earmarked for this purpose.

So you shouldn’t ever get a bill. Even if you go to a doctor or hospital outside your insurance network.

Here come the caveats. Advocates and academics who study this stuff are nervously watching to see what happens. They’re concerned some hospitals or clinics will hit people with something to the effect of “facility fees.”

One way to try to avoid this could be to get the shot at a pharmacy or county health department instead of a hospital or hospital-affiliated facility, if that becomes an option for you in your area.

Other loopholes could affect people who have pseudo-health plans, such as Farm Bureau and religion-based shared ministry products that don't have to follow insurance laws. Some insurance plans also still exist that got special permission to ignore the federal law that guarantees vaccine coverage.

If you get billed for your shots, we want to hear about it. Email celia (at) kcur (dot) org.

Where can I read details about how the vaccines work, such as how much time should pass between doses?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has this FAQ on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Both of them are two-dose immunizations. Your pharmacy or other provider should schedule your second shot at least three weeks after the first if you receive the Pfizer version, or at least four weeks if you get Moderna.

People shouldn’t get the vaccine if they’ve had allergic reactions to vaccines in the past.

The CDC has more information on its website for people with underlying health conditions and those who are breastfeeding or pregnant.

How bad is the coronavirus in Kansas right now?

The virus remains widespread and the hospitalization rate remains a concern. Still, the situation in mid-February is looking a lot better than it was back in December. Here are the latest statistics on hospitalizations and deaths, which we update regularly.

We chose these statistics to show trends, which experts say are more reliable than focusing on day-to-day fluctuations.

The cumulative case count across Kansas

The map below shows the total number of confirmed cases in each county in Kansas, but please note that most of these people have gotten well, and their infections aren’t active.

Hover over your county to see how many cases have been reported there.

More than 290,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Kansas. The true figure is doubtlessly much higher, but the state remains far from herd immunity regardless.

Studies show that even the hardest hit states in the country have not approached the natural exposure levels that might lead to herd immunity. Yet already, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died.

This is why public health experts advocate for the vaccine to get to herd immunity while stopping the tide of deaths.