CDC data show that, as of New Year’s Eve, approximately 12.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had been distributed across America. Of these only 2.8 million had been administered. The totals are a moving target. They are based on accurate, or inaccurate, reporting delays, which may be by a day or more, and totally new deliveries which arrive from place to place, hour by hour. Regardless of how exact the numbers are now, the process is well behind schedule. The plan was that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of 2020. One thing for certain is that the pace of vaccination from state to state varies widely.
Government data reported by state, available through New Year’s Eve show state vaccination rates which run as high as 50% and as low as 11%. The lowest rate is in Kansas, where the number is 10.6%. The official count for doses distributed in the state was 114,850. The number administered was 12,164.
There is no accurate telling why the Kansas number is so low. A part could be state logistics for delivery. A part could be the weather. Perhaps a part is attributable to people who refuse to take the vaccine which in some states has been unexpectedly high, even among medical workers. One Atlanta television station reported, “Georgia’s top public health official, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, explained Thursday the reason the state is moving forward with expanding access to the COVID-19 vaccine was because there are doses “literally sitting in freezers” in parts of the state, with rural healthcare workers reluctant to take them.” This problem, could, across the country, account for tens of thousands of doses that have or will be unused.
Kansas is in desperate need of broad distribution of the vaccines. According to The New York Times, it has among the highest rates of deaths per 100,000 people based on an average of the last seven days. The number is 1.1. That is the fourth-worst among all states.
Will Kansas move from the bottom of the list based on vaccination rates? It is so far behind most other states that progress of that magnitude will be difficult. That means Kansas will be in trouble for a long time to come.
In many ways, Kansas is a microcosm. The ambition of government and health officials was that 100 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of Winter, and more than half the nation before mid-year. The chances for that have slipped away.