As doses ramp up, this Lenexa warehouse will now be Johnson County’s vaccination hub

Johnson County vaccine hub

Johnson County health officials say the facilities they've been using for vaccine clinics are not big enough to accommodate the number of daily vaccinations they hope to be doing in the future. The county will use roughly 45,000 square feet of this warehouse at 15500 W. 108th St. in Lenexa. Photo credit Kyle Palmer.

Johnson County is now leasing a Lenexa warehouse to accommodate an expected influx of COVID-19 vaccination opportunities.

Why it matters: The move comes as county health officials are preparing to receive an increased amount of weekly dose allotments from the federal government through the state.

Health officials say the facilities they’ve been using for vaccine clinics so far — including Okun Fieldhouse at the Mid-America West Sports Complex in Shawnee — are not big enough to accommodate the number of daily vaccinations they hope to be administering in coming weeks.

“A dedicated, centralized and flexible facility is necessary as the number of individuals allowed to receive vaccines increases,” read a memorandum from Nicolle Welsh, Deputy Director of Facilities Management for Johnson County.

The warehouse will be used for county-run clinics. Local hospital systems and pharmacies are expected to continue conducting vaccine clinics at their own locations.

The deal: The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved a lease agreement for the warehouse at 15500 W. 108th St. in Lenexa with Overland Park-based design and technology firm Dimensional Innovations.

Commissioners agreed to allocate up to $384,000 for a year to lease the warehouse, though the deal can be terminated after six months at a minimum cost of $192,000.

The warehouse is 63,000 square feet, but the county plans to use only 45,000 square feet of the space for its clinics.

Utilities, taxes and insurance are included in the monthly cost of renting the facility.

What happens next: The lease agreement is ready for “immediate occupancy” starting Monday, March 8, though it’s unclear when exactly the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment plans to move its vaccination operations there.

County health director Sanmi Areola, Ph.D., said they hope to eventually increase the number of doses they administer daily to 2,500, a number he said was not “feasible” at Okun Fieldhouse due to space needed to spread out vaccinators.

Areola said using the warehouse will also allow county clinics to potentially operate on weeknights and on weekends, too. Currently, he said, since the county has not had a dedicated vaccine site, they have to take time to set up and tear down their clinics each day.

What was said: “I think it’s fair to be optimistic that we’ll be getting even more [doses] than that in the future,” Areola said.

Areola said this week that Johnson County for the first time received more than 10,000 vaccine doses from the state, and he expects that total to only grow as federal allotment of vaccines picks up.

He told commissioners that taking in all vaccine distribution points — including county clinics, local hospitals and retail pharmacies — that Johnson County could ultimately be administering up to 30,000 shots a week.

Go deeper: COVID-19 update: Johnson County will get 3,300 doses of newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week