News Briefs

KDHE digging into vaccination reporting flaws to address ‘credibility’ issue

By: - February 10, 2021 5:20 pm
Gov. Laura Kelly and KDHE secretary Lee Norman say resolution of delays in reporting vaccinations will elevate Kansas' standing in national rankings once IT problems are sorted out. (Screenshot/Kansas Reflector)

Gov. Laura Kelly and KDHE secretary Lee Norman say resolution of delays in reporting vaccinations will elevate Kansas’ standing in national rankings once IT problems are sorted out. (Screenshot/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Information technology consultants are working to solve Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s data management problems contributing to lags between administration of COVID-19 vaccine and reporting of inoculations to organizations tracking the pandemic, officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Kansas ranked 49th in terms of per-capita administration of vaccine against COVID-19. The CDC report said 303,000 of 492,000 doses had been used, while KDHE said its tally showed 303,000 of 413,000 doses had been consumed through the vaccination program.

KDHE secretary Lee Norman said vaccines were getting into Kansans because the agency monitored the supply to determine what was in storage and what had been consumed. He expressed confidence Kansas would climb quickly in vaccination rankings once IT issues were remedied. Fixing vaccination reporting is an issue of “credibility and accountability,” he said.

He said KDHE was being “aggressively helpful” in terms of solving reporting challenges. Vaccination sites won’t be punished in any way for the reporting lag, he said.

“I feel like we can give really good assurances that the vaccines are getting into people,” Norman said. “The data continues to lag. We need to fix the IT systems. These interfaces between these IT systems is where the problem is occurring.”

Kelly the state was working with officials in 105 counties to distribute vaccine. County offices and local health providers are responsible for entering vaccination information in databases, she said.

“It’s complex. It’s difficult. There are a lot of people involved,” the governor said. “There are lots of different graphs out there, lots of different rankings out there. All we can do here is base it on what we know to be true. There’s been lots of concern that we’ve lost all of these vaccines, that we don’t have any idea where they are. We do.”

Meanwhile, Norman said discovery of a student-athlete at Fort Hays State University with a UK variant of the coronavirus prompted deployment of a mobile testing unit to Hays. FHSU’s mask mandate and regular testing of athletes reduced the number of close contacts by the patient, he said.

“The quick invitation to KDHE to come in to do enhanced testing in cooperation with the community contributed greatly to the successful case investigation and testing,” Norman said.

He said one person among nearly 200 tests in Hays had COVID-19 and laboratory analysis was being done to determine if the second individual had the same UK variant.

KDHE reported the state had 289,894 cases of the coronavirus, an increase of 1,934 over a two-day period. The state also confirmed 4,303 fatalities during the pandemic, up 106 from the previous account from KDHE.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.