‘Very large number of people’ soon eligible for COVID-19 booster shots in Johnson County

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FILE – In this Dec. 15, 2020, file photo, a droplet falls from a syringe after a person was injected with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

OLATHE, Kan. — The Johnson County Health Department is working to solidify plans to give thousands of people a third COVID-19 shot.

It comes a day after the FDA authorized booster doses for Americans who are 65 and older, younger adults with underlying health conditions and those in jobs that put them at high-risk for COVID-19. The decision represents a scaled back version of the Biden administration’s plan to give third doses to nearly all American adults to shore up their protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The Johnson County Health Department updated county commissioners during a meeting Thursday.

The health department said the FDA’s plan means thousands of people in the county will be eligible for a third shot very soon.

“We’re gonna have a very large number of people that will be eligible for their booster dose very quickly here,” Charlie Hunt, Deputy Director of the Johnson County Health Department, said.

Hunt went on to say that around October 1, about 14,000 people in Johnson County will be eligible for a booster dose.

“We’ll be working to open up our clinics and expand what we’re doing in our Mission [Kansas] clinic as well as open other clinic sites to accommodate some of that,” Hunt said.

Adults who are eligible for boosters will also be encouraged to get the third shot at their doctor’s office or a retail pharmacy instead of waiting for a clinic through the health department. But, Hunt said he doesn’t anticipate an issue for people who hope to get the booster.

“Once we get through this initial phase then the demand, I suspect, will will subside pretty substantially given the more limited groups that the FDA has authorized,” Hunt said.

Keep in mind that right now the majority of people in the metro are not eligible for a booster under the FDA’s plan.

The qualifications for those who do qualify for the third shot are as follows:

  • Received Pfizer shot for first two doses
  • Its been at least 6 months since your vaccination
  • Age 65 or older
  • Age 18-64 with a high risk of severe disease or high risk of exposure because of job
  • At least 18 years old and living in a group setting

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its priority is still vaccinating the unvaccinated, but that could change as it gets more data.

There are also questions for millions more Americans who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots early in the vaccine rollout. The government hasn’t considered boosters for those brands and has no data on whether it’s safe or effective to mix-and-match and give those people a Pfizer shot.

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