WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Around half of Kansas’ counties recently turned down their weekly shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. Health directors from Barton, Pratt, and Kingman counties say they have a larger supply of vaccines than demand from people wanting a shot.
“I think we have reached a point to where last week, we didn’t need that supply,” explained Barton County Health Department Director Karen Winkelman.
Mary Schwartz, Kingman County Health Department director, agreed.
“We are getting to the point where the supply is definitely exceeding the demand, and actually we did go ahead and decline our doses for next week,” she said.
Having more supply than demand of the vaccine has county health directors worried about keeping the vaccination percentage rising. Barton County turned down their scheduled shipment last week but accepted this week’s amount of doses from the state.
“It doesn’t do any good unless it’s in people’s arms and to have a huge supply sitting here not being used just doesn’t feel right either,” Winkelman said.
That was a key sticking point for these health directors, making sure to not waste vaccines.
“If it’s 10 doses per vial, we’d like to have ten people before we open the vial so that way we don’t have only two people walk in that day and end up wasting eight,” explained Pratt County Health Department Director Darcie Van Der Vyver.
Winkelman discussed how she believes they can help increase demand.
“Make it even more easily accessible,” she said.
Schwartz believes it’s about easing people’s apprehension toward vaccines.
“We’re still actively recruiting people to get vaccinated. We’re still trying to educate people and still trying to alleviate any concerns,” she said.
According to the KDHE, more than 2.3 million total doses of vaccines have been distributed to Kansas counties, but more than half a million of them have not been used.