OLATHE, Kan. — Area hospitals have started vaccinating their frontline workers and high-risk patients, but most smaller health care offices have been forced to wait so far.
“And I just ask (everyone) to be as patient as you can, and we will get that information out as soon as we know. We will put the information out,” said Nancy Tausz with the Johnson County Health Department.
Providers like Vibrant Health Clinic in Wyandotte County are trying to be patient while they wait for doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to arrive at their door.
“We do have frontline health care workers here in our clinic. We have individuals that qualify in the higher risk, which is another qualifying factor, so you know, I think the limbo is just which direction are we going and how much vaccine are we going to have?” said Jessica Nichols, director of clinical operations.
The reason smaller health clinics are waiting is because of a common kitchen appliance: freezers. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit, which requires an expensive ultra-cold freezer.
However, the Moderna vaccine can be stored at -4 degrees, and a standard kitchen freezer can reach that temperature. Consequently, the Moderna vaccine is much easier for smaller health care offices to store.
The FDA authorized Moderna’s vaccine for emergency use in the United States on Friday night, which means states will soon start receiving thousands of deliveries. Smaller health care offices could get doses as soon as next week.
“It’s going to be a process, and everyone is very excited and wants to get vaccinated. As soon as we can get it out, we want to get it into as many arms as we can,” Tausz said.
Once the vaccines are distributed, it must go through the distribution tiers outlined by Kansas and Missouri leaders before it is available to the public.
Until then, officials say, continue to follow the guidelines and remain patient.
“Continue to wear your mask social distance; stay home if you’re sick. The virus is still out there. We have to be just aware,” Tausz said.
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