Johnson County expands COVID-19 vaccinations, expects to distribute 10K this week

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OLATHE, Kan. — Area health systems are beginning to help Johnson County expand COVID-19 vaccinations to more people. The county’s health director says seniors 65 and older, special education teachers and first responders began receiving the vaccine Monday.

The county expects about 10,000 doses will be distributed this week as hospitals like Olathe Medical Center and Advent Health call patients for immunization appointments.

Children’s Mercy Hospital also this week will give shots to special education staff for grades kindergarten through 12, and for staff at the Kansas School for the Deaf.

The health department asks that people who think they qualify to not call the hospitals, they will call you.

“Some of them have several thousand, tens of thousands of people who qualify for this,” said Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of Johnson County Health and Environment.

“They only have a few doses. They can only reach out to some just like we can only reach out to some.”

Areola estimates vaccinating educators and child care providers alone is a group of about 30,000 people in Johnson County. The 65-plus group is even larger, so this will take some time, because right now the county only expects to receive less than 7,000 doses a week.

Johnson County did receive some extra doses Thursday. Areola says supply is incrementally improving, and the health department says it knows folks are frustrated.

The county has a team of up to eight people doing nothing but answering thousands of phone calls from the public each day.

Johnson County also is adding volunteers and hiring outside contractors to return voice mail messages.

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