vaccines

March of Dimes

Residents of Protection, Kansas, came together in the spring of 1957 to make their town the first in the nation to be fully inoculated against polio. Today, like many rural communities, the town is divided over how to fight COVID-19.

PROTECTION, Kansas — Sixty-four years ago, residents of this tiny town in southwestern Kansas set a public health example. They made their town the first in the nation to be fully inoculated against polio.

It’s a different story today.

Hans Pennink / Associated Press/File photo

TOPEKA — Kansas expects to finish giving COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care residents and health care workers by the end of this month and has moved people aged 65 and older into the next group to receive the shots.

Sedgwick County Health Department workers set up a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Intrust Bank Arena.
Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

For starters, the COVID-19 vaccine doses intended for Ness County in west-central Kansas landed somewhere else.

“That was my first clue we had a problem,” said Carolyn Gabel, the county’s public health administrator.

Then someone from Dodge City called. Those vials bound for Ness City? They hadn’t been kept as cold as needed. They were no good anymore and needed replacing.

Gov. Laura Kelly/Facebook

TOPEKA — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday received the first of two COVID-19 vaccine shots while some top Republican officials passed, for now, because not all health care workers and nursing home residents have received theirs.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly plans to get a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday as part of a larger program to give shots to selected Kansas officials so that state government can continue to operate during the pandemic.

Pat Gray speaks matter-of-factly about taking her last unassisted steps just before her 13th birthday in 1953.

She says she’d been suffering from a gastro-intestinal illness for a few days. Her fever was high, and her mother was caring for her on a sofa in the dining room of the family’s Kansas City, Kansas, home.

Gray was miserable, so her mother suggested she move to her own bed.

COVID-19 poses such dire risks to older people in nursing homes that even vaccines won’t guarantee a quick end to their pandemic isolation.

Tens of thousands of workers and residents at Kansas long-term care facilities will get vaccinated over the next three months. But families aching to visit after such a long separation may not have easy access to their loved ones for several more months at least.

“We will not be clicking our fingers and returning to normal,” said William Hanage, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University. “There is not a silver bullet.”

Morry Gash / AP

Hospitals across Kansas have started vaccinating frontline health care workers against COVID-19.

Public health officials have said a widely available vaccine will ultimately control the pandemic that has killed almost 2,500 people in the state.

As the vaccines become available to the general public, America Amplified is gathering and curating answers from experts to questions on the minds of public radio listeners across the country.

cdc.gov

TOPEKA — Doses from Kansas’ first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine were arriving Thursday in rural Kansas for hospitals to administer to health care workers, though the state expects its second shipment to be smaller than anticipated.

Wichita Eagle

Health care workers in Wichita were among the first in the state to get the new COVID-19 vaccination.

Five employees of the Ascension Via Christi health system received shots at St. Francis Hospital Monday.  The hospital says a critical care nurse, a housekeeper for a COVID-19 unit and a respiratory therapist were among those who were vaccinated.  Frontline health workers at other Ascension Via Christi facilities in Kansas will receive the vaccination later this week.

Pages