6 months after U.S. authorized COVID-19 vaccine, KC hospitals continue proactive approach

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Posted at 5:30 AM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 12:00:04-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Friday marks six months since the United States Food and Drug Administration gave Pfizer emergency-use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.

In that time, Truman Medical Centers University Health has administered roughly 122,000 vaccines. It averaged about 25,000 per month at first, but that number is now closer to 10,000 per month.

Part of the reason is people who really wanted the vaccine, stood in line to get it right away. Now, hospitals are working to bridge the gap between people without access or transportation to a hospital or who have fears about the vaccine.

Luis Ramos used to be one of the people hesitant about the vaccine.

“I’m not going to lie, in the beginning, I was kind of like, 'What’s gonna happen? Rumors this, rumors that,” the father of three said.

Being able to protect himself to continue providing for his children helped drive him to get the vaccine. His decision was a lot easier because his employer, YardHouse restaurant, partnered with Crowne Plaza Kansas City Downtown hotel to get employees vaccinated through Truman Medical Centers University Health’s mobile health unit.

“We try to reach people where they are and where they work,” Charlie Shields, Truman Medical Centers University Health president and CEO, said.

In May, representatives from Truman Medical Centers University Health went door to door, business to business along the KC Streetcar route and along Troost Avenue, offering to collaborate with business owners to bring the vaccine to their employees. Thursday’s event at Crowne Plaza was a result of those outreach initiatives.

“We want to make it convenient,” Shields said. “Not everyone keeps the same hours, has accessibility as far as transportation. Anything you can do out in the community to make it easier to get the vaccine, that’s what we need to do.”

Shields said this proactive approach is working. Data from the Mid-America Regional Council show the Kansas City metropolitan area is trending down in the number of new cases, hospitalization and deaths. Shields said Truman Medical Centers University Health currently has the fewest number of COVID-19 patients since March 2020.

“It was OK, just like a regular shot," Ramso said of his COVID-19 vaccine. "Like a flu shot."

He’s now encouraging others to get vaccinated, echoing points from doctors who say immunization is the key to normalcy.

“Think about America as in, ‘We the people.’ It could be your mom. It could be your brother. It could be your next door neighbor. We have to help each other out,” Ramos said. “Sooner or later, we’ll get through it. I promise, guys, somewhat somehow.”

Truman Medical Centers University Health continues to offer walk-in vaccinations without an appointment at its two hospitals. More information is available on its website.