Kansas officials renew push for COVID-19 vaccine after FDA approval of Pfizer

By: - August 23, 2021 3:28 pm

KDHE secretary Lee Norman and Gov. Laura Kelly urge Kansans to get vaccinated following formal approval of the Pfizer vaccine by federal regulators. (March 15, 2021, photo by Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Kansas health secretary Lee Norman and Gov. Laura Kelly say formal approval of the safe and effective Pfizer vaccine removes a hurdle for defeating the latest surge of COVID-19 in Kansas.

The rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant has killed hundreds of Kansans and sickened thousands more in recent weeks. On Monday, the Kansas Department for Health and Environment reported four more deaths, 54 hospitalizations and 2,778 new cases since Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration granted approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, and approval of Moderna’s vaccine is expected within weeks.

Norman said approval by federal regulators should instill confidence in hesitant Kansans because of the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing set by the FDA.

“The best way to fight this disease, especially the variant, is to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Norman said. “For those that were waiting on full approval and more data, it’s happened today. Everyone who is eligible should schedule their appointment today to get the vaccine.”

Nearly all of the new cases of COVID-19 in Kansas are attributed to the delta variant, state officials said. The delta variant is more than twice as contagious as previous strains of the deadly disease, and the recent rise in cases is comparable to numbers from last November. The state’s death toll for COVID-19 has risen by 240 in three weeks.

The free vaccines reduce the risk of serious illness from the delta variant and are available to anyone ages 12 and older. So far, just 56.1% of eligible Kansans are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The vaccine is safe, effective against severe illness and death, and our best tool to beat this virus,” Kelly said. “Today’s announcement from the FDA is good news. I urge all Kansans to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves, their neighbors, our frontline workers, and our economy.”

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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.