By Associated Press - Sunday, March 28, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - As Kansas and Missouri prepare to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults, officials are working to win over skeptics of the COVID-19 shots.

Kansas plans to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults on Monday, and Missouri is set to do the same on April 9.

Health officials want to administer as many shots as possible quickly to build widespread immunity. Officials plan to step up their efforts to convince people to get the shots now that they are going to be available to everyone. Already, there have been signs of some reluctance during earlier stages of the vaccine campaign.

“We’ve already experienced the hesitation on the part of people, even when we started with people in the health care world where, of all places, you might not expect as much,” Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said. And when the vaccines were offered in state prisons, 40% of staff and 30% of inmates refused them.

Missouri officials have said that roughly 40% of that state’s residents may refuse to get the shots.

Kelly said she hopes more people will get comfortable with the vaccines once they see others get the shots.

Hesitancy about the vaccines is driven by an assortment of concerns, including worries about side effects and some unfounded conspiracy theories. Officials say relationships with trusted figures, such as personal doctors, will be the key to winning over skeptics.

“It’s very crucial,” said Andrea Morales, chief program officer at Vibrant Health, which provides medical services in underserved areas around Kansas City. She said some patients worry that personal information, such as immigration status, will be gathered if they get vaccinates.

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