Johnson County health leaders push to vaccinate high school students

A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

OLATHE, Kan. — The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) is working to make more appointments available for students 16 to 18 years old to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh said this is the first week the county health department has offered to open vaccine appointments to all residents over 16 years old

“We do know kids in this age group transmit pretty much the same way adults do, so it’s really important that we try to vaccinate them as well to increase the number of individuals who are immune to COVID-19 in our community,” Holzschuh said.  

Holzschuh said JCDHE is in talks with area school districts to coordinate voluntary vaccination events for students who qualify. Holzschuh said parents should receive more information from school district leaders on vaccination opportunities as details are finalized.

Holzschuh said JCDE will host a vaccination clinic for students 16 to 18 years old, next weekend at the county clinic in Lenexa. The event will be open to students enrolled in public and private schools throughout Johnson County. 

Students interested in getting vaccinated will need to prove parental consent and provide a student ID before receiving the vaccine. Students who schedule an appointment will receive the Pfizer vaccine. 

In Johnson County there are approximately 475,000 residents over the age of 16. Health officials say roughly 172,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

JCDE Health Director Dr. Sanmi Areola said next week Johnson County clinics will have approximately 6,500 vaccination appointments available to anyone over the age of 16. Areola said approximately 4,500 appointments will be available for the week beginning on April 26. 

“This is different from where we were two months ago. Now we have vaccines. We have more appointments. We have a bigger space. We are running [the clinics for] longer hours,” Areola said. 

You can find more information on how to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

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