Not enough interest: KC Health Departments struggle to get people vaccinated

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RIVERSIDE, Mo — Platte County had more than 100 doses of vaccine left over at it’s mass vaccination event Friday. Health departments are struggling to get people vaccinated and are sending the message that the pandemic is still a serious situation.

A lot has changed very quickly and we are heading to a point where the large-scale mass vaccination events will be over and health officials will take a more personal approach. 

“It is concerning,” Mary Joe Vernon, Platte County Health Director, said of the slow down in vaccine appointments. “We knew there would be a big push for a vaccine at the start and demand has waned but we just have to keep telling people this is important.”

585 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were available at Platte County’s mass vaccination event Friday. Just over 300 were given, 30 of them were walk-ins.

“We are still getting folks that want the vaccine but really it’s been within the last couple of days that our numbers for appointments have really declined,” Vernon said.

Charizma Bun, 17, got her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine Friday. She said she is one of the last of her friends getting vaccinated and she looks forward to getting her social life back.

“A concert that I wanted to go to got canceled because of COVID, so I feel like I’m getting the vaccine can help push forward getting rid of the pandemic,” Bun said.

There are a little over 100,000 people who live in Platte County. About 53,000 are eligible and not vaccinated.

The Platte County Health Department is not ready to pull the plug on the mass vaccination effort quite yet, but will change its strategy the first week of June. Vaccines will be available at the health department and at smaller, targeted events.

“We will take it to different sites like maybe food pantries, libraries, places like that,” Vernon said.  “Whatever folks challenges are we want to try and remove those barriers and try to let people know we still care, it’s still available, we still need to get the vaccine.”

Doctor’s offices and clinics will also be important in pushing forward the vaccination effort.

“We’ve already had patients asking if we were going to be giving the vaccine so people are willing to come in where they have been previously and are more comfortable,” said Heather Otwell, Nurse Practitioner at CareNow Urgent Care.

CareNow is about two weeks away from offering vaccines to its patients and the public.

“Getting that education to them even before we are able to roll out the vaccine program will be helpful,” Otwell said.

Otwell said the most frequently asked questions are about the side effects and safety of the vaccine.

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