Johnson County health officials plan to start Phase 2 vaccinations next week

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OLATHE, Kan. — Officials with the Johnson County health department are now detailing how they will pivot to Phase 2 of their COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Dr. Samni Areola, health department director, said Phase 2 vaccines will begin in Johnson County on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Phase 2 will be rolled out in separate tiers, with priority going to people age 65 or older. Others in Tier 1 of Phase 2 include K-12 educators and staff members, child care workers, emergency services and food and agriculture workers.

Tier 2 of Phase 2 includes people who work in transportation and logistics and those who work or live in congregant living settings such as group homes, emergency housing, corrections centers and behavioral health centers.

Tier 3 of Phase 2 includes water and wastewater workers, U.S. Postal workers, DMV workers, retail, warehouse and sales employees and companies that supply critical services for battling COVID-19, like PPE manufacturers.

Areola said supply of the vaccine is limited, and the first people who will be offered vaccinations in this tier will be the elderly.

“The slots that are opening next week will be targeted towards those that are 65 or older,” he said.

Hospitals will help with the distribution of the vaccine, and Children’s Mercy will take the lead on working with school districts to get teachers and other staff members vaccinated.

Epidemiologist Dr. Elizabeth Holzschuh said that the health department distributes vaccines as soon as they arrive, but that supply has been limited.

“At this point, we have this light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s coming slower than any of us had hoped for,” she said. “We know everyone is anxious to get the vaccine. We are thrilled that there is as much interest in the vaccine as there is, and I think that this will be a turning point for our community. However, repeatedly, we are just not getting the number of doses that we need.”  

Health officials are hopeful that supply will pick up soon. Residents are encouraged to fill out a survey online and sign up for the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment’s newsletter.

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