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Johnson County now offering newest COVID-19 booster shots — What you need to know

COVID-19 booster

Starting Monday, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment will offer the newest COVID-19 booster shot, which aims to protect agains the latest Omicron subvariants of the disease. Why

Starting Monday, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment will offer the newest COVID-19 booster shot, which aims to protect agains the latest Omicron subvariants of the disease.

Why it matters: The new “bivalent” COVID-19 booster, which was authorized by federal health officials at the end of August, targets both the original COVID-19 strain along with the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA. 5, health experts say.

  • Nationwide vaccination rates have slowed overall since the first COVID-19 booster became available in 2021.
  • However, early numbers show a higher uptake for the new booster — with roughly 397,000 shots already administered in California and roughly 137,900 administered in Illinois.

Local context: The Omicron BA.5 subvariant became the most common strain in positive cases in Johnson County this summer and is known to be more transmissible but generally less severe in symptoms.

  • COVID-19 cases across the Kansas City metro appeared to be on a downward trend at the end of last week, with the number of new cases in Kansas City going down from 1,769 to 1,554 in a week.
  • The most recent county data indicates Johnson County has a current COVID-19 incidence rate of 97 cases — making a positivity rate of 16.5% for the past seven days.
  • However, local health officials have argued that true case numbers are likely higher than official data shows, due to under-reported at-home testing.

Who is eligible? The Pfizer “bivalent” booster is available to people who are 12 years old and older, while the newest Moderna booster is available to people who are 18 years old and older.

  • Anyone who wants to receive the new booster needs to have had both primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago.
  • The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment is not yet giving boosters to people who have received the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, which has struggled to gain uptake in the U.S.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially endorsed the new boosters Sept. 1. At that time, the Food and Drug removed authorization for the original monovalent boosters for people of ages 12 and older.
COVID-19 booster
A nurse administers a COVID-19 vaccine last year. File image courtesy of Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

Where can I get new COVID-19 booster?

Johnson Countians can get vaccinated with the new boosters at the county health department’s walk-in clinics at 11875 S. Sunset Drive in Olathe and at 6000 Lamar Ave. in Mission.

  • The Olathe walk-in clinic is open for immunizations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to noon Friday.
  • The Mission walk-in clinic is open for immunizations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
  • People receiving the boosters do not have to bring their COVID-19 vaccine cards with them.
  • You can also enter your zip code on vaccines.gov to find booster availability through other providers, such as physician offices and pharmacies.

Key quote: “As cases of COVID-19 variants continue to circulate in Johnson County and around the country, the bivalent booster dose will provide an extra layer of protection for individuals from severe disease, hospitalization and the long-term effects of COVID-19,” said Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.