COVID-19 Update: Johnson Count vaccine demand slips, even as new cases continue creeping up

Johnson County vaccine hub

Even as demand for vaccines in Johnson County falls, county health officials say new case numbers continue to creep up. Last week, the incidence rate of new cases went up nearly 4%. "Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods," said county epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh. File photo.

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For the last couple of weeks, Johnson County and other local vaccinators have seen demand for the COVID-19 vaccine diminish, leaving hundreds of appointment slots unfilled.

In the future, that slow-down could change the local approach to vaccine distribution.

This week, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment will offer residents the chance get the vaccine at its mass vaccination site in Lenexa simply by walking in. Times for walk-ins include:

  • from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21
  • from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22

Any Johnson County resident over the age of 16 can receive a vaccine without an appointment. The process is expected to take no longer than 30 minutes.

People interested in receiving the vaccine through this avenue must bring a photo ID and should fill out this consent form in advance. Eligible minors, those 16 or 17, will need a parent or guardian to fill out the form.

“We are excited to offer a more convenient way for Johnson County residents and workers to get vaccinated,” Sanmi Areola, Ph.D., director of the health department, said in a press release.

Vaccine by appointment also still available

To book an appointment between now and May 1 for regular clinic offerings, click here.

Given the high-degree of vaccine availability, Areola says now remains an ideal time to get the vaccine.

With an estimated 40% of the county at least partially vaccinated, population, or herd, immunity hasn’t been reached yet. Until that threshold is met, the pandemic will continue to affect Johnson County, Areola says.

“Our goal remains the same — it is to provide multiple opportunities so that our residents can get vaccinated so that we can get vaccines into the arms of as many people as quickly as we can,” Areola said.

Here’s a look at some local COVID-19 data:

Information courtesy the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

The positivity rate was mostly static from last week to this, staying around 3.2%.

The incidence rate — the number of cases per 100,000 residents — also went up this week, going from 80 to 83 cases.

This data, and others, are concerning, director of epidemiology Elizabeth Holzschuh said last week.

The days of downward trends in new cases and static levels of transmission Johnson County saw through the late winter months and early part of the spring could be over, she warned.

“We were steady for five, six weeks, we’re starting to creep up,” Holzschuh said.

Take for example the states in the upper Midwest, particularly Michigan, that are seeing large increases in daily new cases of COVID-19. That could happen here too, Holzschuh said.

“The trajectory of new cases can really flip on a dime all of the sudden,” Holzschuh said. “Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods.”

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