K-State will distribute vaccines, but timeline remains uncertain

(Photo Illustration by Julie Freijat)

Kansas State will eventually serve as a COVID-19 vaccine distribution center for students, faculty and staff following the state’s prioritized distribution guidelines, but when vaccines will come and the amount that will come is unknown at this time.

“It’s still very … up in the air because really we are dependent on what the state —what they get and how they distribute it,” Abby King, director of nursing at Lafene Health Center, said.

The state of Kansas recently announced it would begin Phase 2 vaccinations immediately, but that phase prioritizes individuals 65-years-old and older and some critical infrastructure employees. So far, the Riley County Health Department has administered at least 1,000 doses to people who fall into those categories.

Across the state, something like one million individuals are eligible for Phase 2, Gov. Laura Kelly said, but Kansas only received 45,000 initial doses for that group. Supply remains an ongoing problem.

“It’s just a trickling supply coming in that’s been a source of frustration,” Dr. Lee Norman, the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said at the University of Kansas Health System’s regional COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.

King, however, remains optimistic K-State could begin administering doses before the year is out.

“We don’t really know, but we’re hoping the next couple of months we will get an allocation of the vaccine but we do not know for sure,” King said.

When distribution can begin on-campus, it will likely occur in bigger spaces around campus, King says, like the K-State Student Union Ballroom. Such spaces enable large quantities to be administered quickly, while providing space for the requisite 15-minute observation period post-dosage and physical distancing.

K-State is a closed distribution site, meaning it will only be open to students, faculty, staff and others affiliated with the university. Members of the general public will not be given vaccines on-campus.

And when the time comes, King says she hopes everyone who is eligible will get the vaccine.

“It is a another aspect to help decrease the spread of the COVID virus, and it’s an a very important piece to help decrease the spread of the virus,” King said. “It’s going to be another piece that’s going to be super helpful for us to move forward through this pandemic.”

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.