COVID-19 vaccine clinics for teens could be next for Johnson County — what we know

COVID-19 teens

Kansans 16 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines, which makes many high schoolers able to get shots. Some teens in Johnson County have already gotten appointments through their jobs, and county health officials say they are now considering ways to offer vaccine clinics targeting high school students. File photo.

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Though COVID-19 vaccination appointments will continue to be available to Johnson County residents, the way they are allotted by the county health department may change soon as demand starts to decrease.

As of last week, everyone who had previously registered their interest to receive a vaccine with the county’s all-phases survey has been given the opportunity to make an appointment, Sanmi Areola, Ph.D., director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said.

As demand for vaccines continues to decrease, the county could start offering open vaccine opportunities very soon, Holzschuh said.

That means people would not need to make an appointment to receive a vaccine, but could walk in and receive a dose.

At this time, however, appointments are still required.

If you haven’t completed the survey, you can do so by clicking here.

People who fill out the survey this week should be able to get an appointment almost immediately, county director of epidemiology Elizabeth Holzschuh said.

“We know there are still people in our community who have not yet had an appointment and want one,” Holzschuh said. “In the coming weeks, if you want an appointment, we should be able to get you an appointment either through us or one of our partners.”

For information about getting a vaccine through an avenue outside of the county-run clinics, click here.

Vaccinating school-aged populations

Now that Kansas has progressed into Phase 5 of the statewide vaccine rollout plan, all people 16 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine.

That means many high school students meet the age requirement.

With that in mind, JCDHE officials say they are working on planning vaccine clinics targeted at qualifying teens through their school districts.

The details at this time are still uncertain and what those clinics will look like could vary from school district to school district.

Some schools could offer vaccines during the day, others could have after-school clinics, but any plan is likely to include support from the Children’s Mercy health system, Holzschuh said.

The county’s vaccinations of K-12 educators and child care workers has been coordinated through Children’s Mercy.

“This is not mandatory, we are not going to force anybody to get the vaccine, even if they’re a student,” Holzschuh said. “This is just to provide an extra opportunity for us to get as many individuals in our community protected as possible.”

When those plans are worked out, parents should expect to receive information from their child’s school district.

In the meantime, those students who are 16 and older can now receive a dose at any vaccine clinic in Johnson County — including ones operated by the county, local hospitals and retail pharmacies, like HyVee and CVS.

“A number of them [teens] have already had that opportunity, whether it’s because they work in restaurants or grocery stores,” Holzschuh added.

‘That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter’

The rate of vaccination in the community and the data showing its efficacy at warding off serious COVID-19 infections are promising signs, Holzschuh said.

According to data from JCDHE, about 21% of county residents are now fully vaccinated.

“It feels like each week though we are closer. I feel like that light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter each week,” Holzschuh said.

However, the pandemic isn’t over, she said.

Even if you have been vaccinated, Holzschuh advises that you remain masked up in public, keep socially distanced and avoid travel when possible.