INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — It’s getting easier to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the Kansas City metro. Several locations across the metro are now hosting walk-in vaccine clinics.
Data from Missouri shows about 1 in 3 residents have their first COVID shot, and in Kansas, over 35% of residents have received at least one dose. Anyone 16 or older on either side of the state line is now eligible to get a vaccine.
“We’re giving Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. People can come in and get those shots,” said Dr. Bridget McCandless, a volunteer at the Independence Center walk-in clinic. “You sit around for 15 minutes. If you feel fine, then you’re on your way and come back for your second shot in three weeks.”
At the clinic in Independence, located in the northeast end of the mall near the old Macy’s, you don’t need an appointment. Volunteers expected 1,000 people on Friday but only saw 200.
“There’s so many places now to get vaccines, I think people are finding what’s the most convenient for them,” McCandless said. “Even though we’re a little bit slow today, I think it’s going to pick up, especially as more young people are eligible now to get vaccines and a lot of it is word of mouth.”
In Wyandotte County, all Kansas residents can walk in to one of the county’s three clinics to get their appointment. No appointment needed.
In Excelsior Springs on Friday, Heart to Heart International set up a small vaccine clinic at the Community Center to make it more convenient for people to get a shot. This clinic requires appointments. Tena Tiruneh with Heart to Heart International said the group expected 50 and were just two short of the goal.
“For small outlets like us, we go into the community, and it’s a little harder to do walk-ins because you want to make sure you have the vaccines accounted for,” Tiruneh said.
Heart to Heart has mobile clinics that travel to high-need communities across the metro.
“We had data that told us what areas were more affected in terms of positivity rate, so we focused in those areas to make sure we were available to give the vaccines,” Tiruneh said.
As more people get the vaccine and others realize they’re eligible, health officials expect the demand to pick up.
“If I get it and I do OK and I tell my friends and family, then they’re more likely to get their vaccinations,” McCandless said.
As the supply increases, health officials will begin to focus more on addressing vaccine hesitancy by educating people who are on the fence about the shot. A little more than 20% of people in Kansas and Missouri have been fully vaccinated.
To create an umbrella of immunity, some experts say between 75-85% of the population must get the shot.
“I don’t think hesitancy is linear. It’s across cultural and racial differences, but we’re running into hesitancy by the numbers we’re seeing continuing to go down,” Tiruneh said.
Earlier this week, health officials recommended the Johnson & Johnson vaccine be paused after a handful of reports of blood clots. Millions of people have received that shot.
Clinics continue with the Moderna and Pfizer versions. Many health professionals are spending time giving people the information they need to make an informed decision.
“We have developed a webinar a recorded message for the educational and informational aspects, and we continue to engage,” Tiruneh said.