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Johnson County vaccinations could be complicated this week by winter weather and bitterly cold temperatures.
Sub-zero temperatures, biting wind chills and the chance for more snow are forecast to linger through Thursday.
For those reasons, Johnson County health officials are advising people with vaccine appointments for either first or second doses to keep their own safety in mind and reschedule if they do not feel comfortable venturing out this week.
People who do decide to brave the cold to get their vaccine at the county’s clinics will be accommodated, county health director Sanmi Areola, Ph.D., said. Warming buses and hot drinks provided by the Salvation Army will be on hand at the county’s clinics.
Here is what you need to know for what promises to be a frigid week in Johnson County vaccinations:
Canceling/Rescheduling an appointment
- Residents who do cancel or reschedule appointments this week or decide to not make an appointment due to the weather will be given the opportunity to make another appointment “as soon as possible,” Areola said. “If you cannot come because of the weather, that’s fine — it’s always safety first,” Areola said last week. “We do not want to discount the impact of the weather.”
- There are buttons to cancel or reschedule appointments off to the right side in the same confirmation emails residents receive after they have scheduled an appointment for a first or second dose.
- People who have trouble canceling or rescheduling through the confirmation email buttons can reach out to the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment via email a firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 913-715-2819
- Areola estimated that roughly 6,000 people are due their second dose this week — the majority of whom are 80 years or older or health care workers previously vaccinated as part of Phase 1.
- Second doses, Areola, said, come to the county in a separate stream from first doses.
- Those who are due should have already received information about booking their appointments for their second dose this week. Appointments are available Tuesday through Friday.
County continues to focus on 80+ population
- Vaccine priority groups this week are the same as it has been the last couple of weeks.
- People 80 years and older as well as people who have been missed in Phase 1 (mainly essential health care workers) are expected to be vaccinated this week at county clinics.
- Areola said last week the county was making attempts to reach out to all remaining residents who are 80 or older who have expressed interest in getting vaccinated through the county’s online survey, which included more than 5,000 people in that age group who are due their second dose this week.
Educators and childcare workers
- On top of the county’s clinics, public and private school educators, as well as childcare staffers, are continuing to get lined up for their first doses through Children’s Mercy Hospital.
- For public school educators and staff members in Johnson County, vaccinations are mostly being organized by districts.
- Elizabeth Holzschuh, the county’s director of epidemiology, said more than 3,500 educators were vaccinated last week, which she estimated to be about 20% of the total number of people in this group that need to be vaccinated.
People 65 and older
- People 65 and older are also considered part of Phase 2 but are not currently being prioritized for vaccination at the county’s clinics.
- People in this age group are eligible to receive vaccines through their primary health care provider or doctor.
- All major health systems serving the county — including AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, the University of Kansas Medical Center, St. Luke’s, Menorah, Overland Park Regional and Olathe Medical Center — are in the process of vaccinating their patients who are 65 and older.
- Some systems are allowing non-patients to also express their interest in getting vaccinated. Information about vaccination through each health system is available here.
Retail pharmacies offering limited doses
- A handful of local retail pharmacies also began vaccinating a very limited number of people Monday.
- These doses are being offered to people 65 and older as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
- Fewer than 10,000 doses were sent to Kansas for distribution statewide through the program.
- Balls Foods, owner of Hen House and Price Chopper, said it hopes to receive more doses in coming weeks and said those eligible to be vaccinated can check their pharmacies’ home page for more information.
Independent senior living vaccines
- Additionally, some 1,900 residents and staffers at unlicensed, independent senior living facilities were set to be vaccinated this week.
- The county is partnering with Hy-Vee and Auburn Pharmacy to reach these individuals, who were not vaccinated as part of the federal vaccine pharmacy partnership administered by CVS and Walgreens.