No more excuses: Kansas must fix tracking glitches and let counties speed up COVID-19 vaccinations

By The Editorial Advisory Board
Gov. Laura Kelly's administration should open up vaccines to as many people as feasible as soon as possible.

It’s been a year.

We’ve all lived with the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. And we’re tired. Everyone is tired. We want to move on with our lives, with our families, with our jobs.

Vaccines are out there, so there’s reason to hope. We understand that the crisis isn’t over yet, not by a long shot, but we’re ready to get on with it.

So why is the state of Kansas dragging its feet on getting people vaccinated? It’s not a good look for Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration to bar counties that want to open up vaccinations for more people from doing so. Sure, other counties might not have covered everyone in Phase 2, but at this stage, it’s simply important to inoculate as many people as possible.

It made sense in December and January to vaccinate health care workers and nursing home residents first. In February, concentrating on seniors made sense, too. But the vaccines are no longer as scarce as they once were. Pharmacies are receiving shipments. The new Johnson & Johnson shot is coming online. If someone wants a shot, at this stage in the game, why not give them one if it’s available?

Yes, there are serious questions of equity and fairness. That’s true. But these questions weren’t solved before the halting rollout of the first shots last year. We’re not going to have perfect fixes at hand anytime soon.

So here’s a thought: Just give people the shots. Open up the vaccines to as many people as feasible, and get to work.

And for that matter, let’s not blame reporting problems for Kansas showing up toward the bottom of various vaccine trackers. We might be doing better than the publicly reported data shows, and that’s great to hear, but enough with the excuses. We need responsibility from those in charge to resolve reporting problems.

Why is this important? Because the administration owes all of us transparency. The vaccine rollout is perhaps the single most important thing that Gov. Kelly is overseeing right now. So we all deserve to have accurate, up-to-date tracking information about that rollout. Delays and glitches are obscuring information from voters and taxpayers.

While we’re at it (and maybe this is the pandemic fatigue talking), enough with the defensiveness and lecturing from the governor’s office. We’ve been supportive of Kelly and her staff in the past, especially when they face bad-faith criticism. But we’re at a point when timely results matter.

Let’s get it done.