‘This is damn serious’: Roberts urges Kansans to take COVID-19 vaccine

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts takes the COVID-19 vaccine in a video published Monday on Facebook by Gov. Laura Kelly. (Screenshot by Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts administered stern advice as he received his shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is damn serious,” he said. “Take the vaccine, just like I’m doing right now.”

Health officials in Kansas are administering vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna to the pandemic’s front line workers and others selected for the first wave of a limited supply as the novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported another 107 deaths from the virus on Monday, bringing the total number of Kansas to die from the disease to 2,448.

The vaccine is the latest weaponry in the war on the deadly contagion. The latest front in the war on disinformation: Convincing people to take the vaccine.

Enter Roberts, the Republican who is about to retire after representing Kansas for four decades in Washington, D.C. In a promotional video shared Monday by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Facebook, Roberts urged Kansans to wear a mask and get over their worries about the vaccine.

“Folks — get the vaccine. I know some people have worries about it,” Roberts said. “This is really going to help us get on top with this dreaded disease that has hurt us so much.”

And after taking his shot: “It didn’t hurt a bit, folks.”

The Harvey County Health Department said it received 200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. The doses were being administered to local emergency responders and health care workers. (Harvey County Health Department)

Kansas received 24,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine last week and expects to receive 49,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week.

Kelly applauded Roberts for “a final act of bipartisan goodwill.”

“When it’s your turn,” she said, “be like Senator Roberts and get your vaccine. It’s safe, effective, and will keep you and your loved ones protected from COVID-19.”

As of Monday, health officials have documented 204,600 infections of COVID-19 in Kansas. KDHE’s list of current outbreaks includes 55 nursing homes, seven correctional facilities, two group living homes, three health care facilities, six private businesses, including the Pfizer plant in McPherson, seven K-12 schools, the Jewell County Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Colby business office.

With no apparent slowing down of the virus’ spread, Kelly also announced Monday she will deliver her annual State of the State speech virtually next month, instead of speaking from the House floor.

“COVID-19 has altered many of our traditions,” the governor said. “With case numbers continuing to increase and limited hospital capacity, gathering the entire Legislature and the Kansas Supreme Court Justices into one chamber would be an unnecessary risk to their health and safety.”