For most Johnson Countians, it will likely be weeks — or even months — until they can get COVID-19 vaccine

Photo credit Daniel Paquet. Used under a Creative Commons license.

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When can I get vaccinated?

Many Johnson Countians are asking that question, and the short answer is: for most of us, it’s still going to be a while.

The county is currently in what it calls “Phase 1” of vaccine distribution, focused on health care workers and residents and employees of long-term health care facilities. County health officials say for members of the general public, it will likely be weeks — even months — before their turn comes.

For that reason, on Friday the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment urged residents to have patience as the county and state’s vaccine rollout plan comes into clearer focus.

“JCDHE is asking for the public’s patience with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Johnson County is ready to vaccinate as soon as the vaccine becomes available. Vaccines are an important part of mitigating the spread of the virus in Johnson County,” county health director Sanmi Areola, Ph.D., said in a statement Friday.

Here are some key points about how vaccine distribution currently stands in Johnson County:

The county’s first round of vaccines is about to run out

  • The county received 4,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the state in December. Those doses started being given to health care workers and in long-term care facilities in January.
  • JCDHE said in a Facebook post Friday that it had administered 2,400 doses in the first week of January to health care and EMS workers.
  • A JCDHE spokesperson told the Post that only a few hundred doses of this first round are left and are expected to be given Monday, Jan. 11.

Demand among health care workers is way higher than current supply

  • The county says roughly 25,000 health care workers have expressed interest in getting vaccinated, far outstripping the county’s current supply of vaccines.
  • Health care organizations are encouraged to fill out this online survey, letting county health officials know how many employees/workers they have that want to get vaccinated. The county says it will contact those organizations when vaccines become available.
  • More vaccines could be on the way. The incoming Biden administration has vowed to ramp up national vaccine distribution, after several governors — including Kansas’ Laura Kelly — wrote a letter complaining of “unacceptable” delays in vaccine distribution under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.

There is no vaccine sign-up for the general public in Johnson County

  • Unlike in some neighboring counties, Johnson County currently does not have a way for members of the general public to sign up or register their interest in getting vaccinated.
  • Wyandotte County, Kan., and Jackson County, Mo., both have online registration forms for residents interested in getting vaccinated. By filling out these forms, residents in those counties can sign up for email or text alerts when they eventually become eligible to receive a vaccine dose.
  • When asked by the Post why Johnson County does not have a similar sign-up system, a JCDHE spokesperson said via email, “We will move through the next phases as quickly as possible, using the same methods as the department has used for people to sign up for testing.”

JoCo has adopted Kansas’ revised vaccine rollout plan

  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment revised its five-phase vaccine rollout plan this week, and JCDHE says it will follow these guidelines.
  • Phase 1 covers health care workers and residents and workers in long-term health care facilities. That phase is expected to last through at least January.
  • Phase 2 covers people 65 years and older and, according to JCDHE, essential workers not vaccinated in Phase 1. That phase could last through February.
  • Phase 3 covers people age 16 to 64 with severe medical risks and other critical workers. That phase is expected to last through March.
  • Phase 4 covers people age 16 to 64 with other medical risks and is expected to last through April and into May.
  • Phase 5 is the final phase and covers the rest of the population 16 years and older and is not expected to commence until June.