Johnson County considers changing strategy and ending mass vaccination clinics

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This picture taken on November 17, 2020 shows a syringe and a bottle reading “Vaccine Covid-19. (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

OLATHE, Kan. — The Johnson County Health Department is considering a change in tactics to get more COVID-19 vaccinations into arms.

Health leaders in the county said about 20% of the entire population are vaccinated. If you look at only those age 16 and up who live in the county and are eligible for the vaccine, the percentage jumps to about 25%.

“We are not where we need to be,” Dr. Sanmi Areola, Director of the Johnson County Health Department, said.

We need to reach an immunization rate of 75% before we will see the benefits of population immunity, experts said during a Facebook Live Thursday.

But, Johnson County is struggling to fill appointments at its mass clinic. The health department still has appointments open this week and next week. Because of that, the health department is considering changing the types of vaccination clinics it offers.

“This may be that the need for mass vaccination clinics where we are planning to vaccinate 3,000 persons become reduced and that we go back to how we normally distributed flu vaccine, which is at a slower pace, doctors offices and pharmacies,” Areola said.

The health department also said it started to see some hesitancy in the population that hasn’t been vaccinated. Areola said the health department is now working on a different strategy to ease the concerns of those who haven’t agreed to get a vaccine yet.

“We will adjust our approach in terms of when we run the clinics based on demand. But then we’ll be in the community. We will go to churches, we’ll go to places where people are and we will vaccinate them and that hasn’t changed,” Areola said.

Johnson County said it also started scheduling appointments two weeks in advance, to help people better plan. You can schedule an appointment online. They are open to anyone age 16 and older who lives or works in the state of Kansas.

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