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The end of Johnson County’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout may be in sight.
According to county health officials, based on the number of people who have currently filled out the county’s vaccine interest survey, all adults 16 and older in Johnson County who want a vaccine could get one by early May.
“It could be a couple of weeks,” county director of epidemiology Elizabeth Holzschuh said. “Probably two to four weeks.”
Holzschuh was sure to point out that that projection could change if more people fill out the interest survey and get in line. But she says if you fill out the survey now, you’re likely to get an appointment invitation in less than a month’s time.
Looking for a vaccine appointment. Here is the Shawnee Mission Post’s rundown of all the ways you can find a vaccine slot.
Ahead of projections
That new timeline is ahead of where the county expected to be when vaccinations got underway roughly three months ago. Then, there were widespread assumptions that vaccinations could last well into the summer.
Even more recent projections forecast that even as eligibility for vaccines has become more universal, supplies from the state and federal governments would still be a limiting factor.
But under the new vaccine appointment invitation system, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment is able to track who has received a vaccine outside the county.
That paired with data reporting from KDHE is giving a clearer picture of who is left.
New CDC data shows nearly 20% of Johnson County residents have been fully vaccinated, the highest rate of any county in the Kansas City metro.
In recent weeks, JCDHE has started receiving nearly 20,000 doses a week from the state, and that volume is expected to keep coming in each week going forward.
That growing weekly allotment of doses gets divided up among local health systems and county-run clinics and has enabled the county to add more and more individual appointments each week.
“Your chances of getting an appointment right now are very, very high,” Sanmi Areola, Ph.D., director of the county health department, said on Friday. “We are also opening up more appointments weekly.”
If you haven’t filled out the vaccine interest survey form, but want a vaccine, click here.
County health officials say you only need to fill it out once. So, if you’ve filled it out and have yet to hear from the county, officials say continue to be patient because your turn should be coming soon.
New appointment system
Last week, JCDHE rolled out a new appointment signup system that gives health officials more control over bookings.
This makes it more difficult for people to share signup links with their friends or on social media because the new system essentially requires pre-registering for a vaccine appointment, Holzschuh said.
People who receive a link to signup for an appointment must now put in their name and birthdate in order to proceed.
Holzschuh said this will help ensure that people who are at a higher risk of developing a serious COVID-19 infection — generally, older people and those with serious pre-existing health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease — can be prioritized over younger, healthier individuals.
In the past, county officials have said appointments meant for those 65 and older — a group that was prioritized in a previous phase of the county’s vaccine rollout — were taken by people younger and less vulnerable to COVID-19 because the link to vaccination signups was being shared.
Previously, appointment links have been sent to people based mostly on the order in which they submitted their vaccine interest form to the county, but Areola now says some vulnerable groups — like seniors who have yet to get vaccinated — can be moved to the front of the line.
If you’ve filled out the form, but haven’t received communication from JCDHE, make sure to check your spam folder in your email, Holzschuh said.
Extended vaccine clinic hours
This week, county-run vaccine clinics will be open longer in order to increase access to vaccinations for people unable to take off from work to get an appointment.
The county’s clinics, which are now being run out of a Lenexa warehouse subleased for the purpose, will also be open this Saturday to also give more working adults a chance to get vaccinated.
Some clinics in the morning this week will be reserved to give people their second doses. Clinics will also stay open until 7 p.m. some days.