Kansas officials urge vaccination as concerns intensify over Delta variant

With COVID-19 vaccines widely available, just 53.3% of Kansas adults are fully inoculated

By: - June 29, 2021 12:20 pm

Kansas Department of Health and Environment secretary Lee Norman says the rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is of great concern. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Kansas officials are pleading with residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine and protect themselves from the dangerous Delta variant sweeping through the Midwest.

The variant appears to be far more contagious than any other strain to emerge since the start of the pandemic. The original virus and its mutations have killed 5,150 Kansans as of Monday.

Those who received one of the vaccines should be protected from serious illness, although the World Health Organization urges fully vaccinated individuals to still wear a mask as a safeguard against the Delta variant. Kansans who refuse to get the widely available vaccine are most at risk for hospitalization or death.

Between June 2 and June 28, the Kansas Department for Health and Environment reported 70 more Kansans died from COVID-19 and 288 were hospitalized.

“The Delta variant is rapidly spreading in neighboring states, and the best way to protect yourself, your community, and finally get our state back to normal is by getting vaccinated,” said Gov. Laura Kelly. “Kansas is moving in the right direction, but we can’t let our guard down now.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 53.3% of Kansas adults are fully vaccinated, below the national average of 57%.

High vaccination rates prevent COVID-19 from spreading, and developing new variants. The Delta variant originated in India, where a newly found variant nicknamed Delta Plus appears to be less responsive to antibodies.

“The rapid increase of the Delta variant throughout the U.S. and in Kansas is of great concern to us,” said KDHE secretary Lee Norman. “Vaccination continues to be the best defense in combating variants.”

Kansans can locate at COVID-19 vaccine by going to vaccines.gov.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the percentage of fully vaccinated adults in Kansas.

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Sherman Smith
Sherman Smith

Sherman Smith is the editor in chief of Kansas Reflector. He writes about things that powerful people don't want you to know. A two-time Kansas Press Association journalist of the year, his award-winning reporting includes stories about education, technology, foster care, voting, COVID-19, sex abuse, and access to reproductive health care. Before founding Kansas Reflector in 2020, he spent 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal. He graduated from Emporia State University in 2004, back when the school still valued English and journalism. He was raised in the country at the end of a dead end road in Lyon County.