By JOHN HANNA, Associated Press
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas has requested less than 9% of its federal allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses for this week as Republican lawmakers attempt to revive proposals to ban state vaccination passports and restore the limits of tracing the close contacts of people who exposed to the virus.
Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s office said Thursday that the state has requested fewer than 14,000 doses of vaccine for the week, out of a federal allotment of nearly 162,000. While the state sought the full allocation of 6,400 doses of a one-shot vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, it requested only 7,510 doses of its allocation of 155,540 doses of two-shot vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
In Kansas, the vaccination rate has slowed in the past few weeks. In the seven days ending April 6, the high averaged 29,380 shots per day and the seven days ending Wednesday averaged just 11,872, according to data from the state Department of Health and Environment.
Kelly spokeswoman Reeves Oyster said the state ordered less than its allotment “to make sure no vaccine is wasted”.
“Last week, vendors reported low demand and sufficient inventory to handle a weekly surge in demand,” she said in an email. “As in the rest of the country, demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is slowing.”
Counties have declined the vaccine doses as demand has waned, and while the department reported that more than 1.95 million shots had been administered as of Wednesday, there were still nearly 647,000 more doses available. The health department in Sedgwick County, home of the state’s largest city, Wichita, has cut its vaccination clinic operations by 10 hours a week due to falling demand, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Meanwhile, some Republican senators in the GOP-controlled legislature were working on a proposal to ban state and local government agencies from requiring people to use COVID-19 vaccination cards to enter places open to the general public.
Kelly said last month that she was not interested in vaccination records and none would be issued under her authority.
Senate Justice Committee chairwoman Kellie Warren, a Republican from Leawood, said lawmakers hear from people wanting to see a ban.
“This would protect your privacy,” she said.
With lawmakers hoping to close deal of the year this week, lawmakers would have to incorporate a proposed ban into existing law when senators and members of the House of Representatives write the final version.
House Justice Committee chairman Fred Patton, a Republican from Topeka, said he was working on a proposal, but the senators showed him a language that was “fairly broad”.
“I think it would even affect getting information from your own doctor, and we sure don’t want that to be the case,” Patton said.
Warren is also working to revive the boundaries for tracing contacts in cases where people have been exposed to COVID-19. Legislature enacted the limits last year at the urging of Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican running for governor, who saw them as a way to protect people’s privacy.
However, the restrictions on tracing expired Saturday, and while the Senate passed a bill in March to keep it in place permanently, the House did not take the measure. The rules prevented people exposed to COVID-19 from being forced to disclose their close contacts, saying that people could not be prosecuted or prosecuted for rejection.
These limit values differentiate COVID-19 from other infectious diseases such as syphilis or hepatitis. Public health groups said the limits are hindering contact tracing and opposed to the various rules for the novel coronavirus. Some Republicans said the special treatment was justified because COVID-19 was so widespread and the privacy threat was much greater.
Patton said Members of the House do not have many concerns about reintroducing the special contact tracing rules for COVID-19.
Warren said, “We have heard from voters across the state that these are issues for lawmakers to take up.”
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