Kansas lawmakers confused, push for answers on coronavirus reporting

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)— Kansas lawmakers cited communication problems with the state’s health department in a meeting Tuesday, as they spoke about the state’s reporting issues.

Lawmakers pointed out the CDC’s data shows that Kansas has administered more vaccines than Kansas’ coronavirus vaccine data shows.

According to the CDC, as of Tuesday, Kansas has administered 158,743 vaccine doses. That’s about 1,200 more than Kansas reported Tuesday, with a total of 157,520.

In the past, state officials blamed a lag in reporting of vaccinations to the CDC for the state’s low vaccine rollout rate. Lawmakers were confused as to why the CDC’s data was now reporting more vaccines administered than the state.

“What they’re saying is different than what we’re hearing nationally and locally, so to me, the communication needs to be cleared up,” said Sen. Kristen O’Shea, R-Topeka.

According to state health officials, the differences in data reporting could be related to the different software being used on a state and federal level to report numbers. The state’s system uses WebIZ, a confidential computer-based information system, to collect data. The program run by the U.S. government through Operation Warp speed is Tiberius, a program specifically developed to aid in tracking vaccine allocation and other vaccine distribution efforts.

States, however, have the final call in how vaccines are distributed. Kansas is relying on county health departments to distribute vaccines and report numbers in their local communities.

“We depend heavily on 105 counties, and 103 health departments to enter it in. And we look at WebIZ as a source of truth, so, I will stand by those numbers,” said state health secretary Dr. Lee Norman.

Tuesday’s data on the state’s coronavirus vaccine dashboard also shows 255,550 shots distributed, while only 157,520 have been administered. That means 98,030 shots are unaccounted for.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), said the following in an email Tuesday:

“These are the doses that have been delivered but have not yet been reported out by the providers. There continue to be reporting delays. We will be expanding our dashboard in the future to include more details.”

As the state moves through its phases for vaccine distribution, state health officials said vaccine rollout should ramp up significantly as more pharmacies begin to distribute vaccines. The state is hoping to receive more vaccine doses to help with the state’s vaccine rollout, as it faces a larger amount of demand in Phase 2.

Secretary Norman said they’re expecting about 700,000 to 800,000 people to be included in Phase 2, which could take months to get through.

But, lawmakers are hoping the department will start addressing the logistical issues with individual counties first.

“If I was KDHE at this point, I think I would sit down with whoever’s in charge of this, and start contacting the counties, and find out what issues they have, and how do we get them fixed,” said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita.

The CDC’s data shows Kansas is in the bottom tier for vaccine rollout, standing at 5,449 doses administered per 100,000 people as of Tuesday.

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