Johnson County vaccinating more vulnerable populations to achieve equity

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OLATHE, Kan. — Vaccinating the most vulnerable people in the community continues to challenge public health agencies, but Johnson County is working to diversify its strategy.

Public health workers are trying to achieve equity and fairness in choosing who to immunize. Johnson County health workers have begun reaching out to people who are homebound, disabled or don’t have a permanent place to live.

During the next few weeks, nurses will travel to and vaccinate residents in Johnson County who are homebound.

On Friday, 62 homeless individuals received the vaccine at the Project 10/20 homeless shelter in Lenexa, Kan. Domestic violence shelter residents will be inoculated later this week.

The county also has identified 1,500 people in the intellectual and developmental disability community that need to be immunized.

“We are working on finalizing vaccinations at the corrections facility,” said Dr. Sanmi Areola, Johnson County Health and Environment director. “We are finalizing details for vaccination of grocery store workers. This is part of our population where there’s a lot more diversity. And as we get into March, you will see more equity on display in the vaccination efforts.”

Johnson County already has provided transportation for about 20 people who are 80 or older to get them to one of the vaccination clinics.

All of this is happening while Johnson County continues to give shots to those who are 65 and older, teachers and school staff, and day care providers.

The Centers for Disease Control and prevention now say fully vaccinated people can gather in small groups without masks. Areola says make sure you’re doing so in a controlled group with no indiscriminate gatherings.

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