Local health departments making plans for vaccine sites when more doses become available

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Food and Drug Administration authorized Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use Friday night. Now, nearly six million doses will be distributed to states next week.  

So when will doses be available to more people right here in Kansas City?

A former K-Mart building on State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, is already serving as a COVID-19 test site. And soon, part of that building will be transformed into a vaccine clinic.

As the second coronavirus vaccine gets ready for its debut, plans to get it in the public’s arms are taking shape.

“We’re still a little ways out. COVID’s still a threat because it’s going to take a while to get the vaccines distributed broadly in the community, and immunity doesn’t happen right away,” said Janell Friesen, spokesperson for the Unified Government Public Health Department.

But what is expected to happen quickly is the Moderna vaccine’s arrival in the metro. The Wyandotte County health department is optimistic it’ll get 800 doses before Christmas.

“That will give us enough for health department staff, EMS and then some left for additional health care-associated workers,” Friesen said.

Wyandotte County will take a chunk of the former K-Mart store and convert it to a vaccine clinic to help administer those shots. Depending on supply, it’s possible the next batch arriving in January could be ready for some people with pre-existing conditions and those over age 65.

“There’s multiple lanes for people to line up, spaced out to get vaccinated,” Friesen said. “You’ll have to have your mask on the whole time. There will be an area to sit down for 15-30 minutes afterward just as a precaution. There’ll be nurses there to monitor people and walking around to answer questions.”

Johnson County has identified at least three sites to serve as a vaccine clinics once there are more doses to go around, and plenty of people are ready to roll up their sleeves and get the COVID shot.

“The public is very anxious for the vaccine: ‘What tier am I in? When is it going to be my turn?’ I just ask everyone to be as patient as you can, and we’ll get that information out as soon as we know,” said Nancy Tausz, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment disease containment division director.

The Kansas City Health Department said it’s enrolling as a provider with the state of Missouri to help give vaccines. But because of staffing, the health department said its ability to help vaccinate the public will be limited. So it’s encouraging health care providers to sign up to help distribute the shots more broadly as they become available.

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