Johnson County residents pleased with vaccine clinic changes

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Posted at 7:17 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 20:17:20-05

SHAWNEE, Kan. — Johnson County made big changes to its Covid-19 vaccine clinic for people aged 80 and over.

Earlier this week, many senior citizens were stuck waiting in long lines both inside and out in the cold. The County apologized and promised to do better.

Officials said part of the problem was people showing up an hour early to their appointment so they worked to let people know to only show up 10 minutes early.

Dr. Sanmi Areola, Director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said the county welcomed the feedback.

Areola said the county also added staff inside and outside, provided warming buses in case the lines stretched outside, adjusted spacing inside and provided buses to pick up patients and drop them off at the door.

"Obviously the adjustments worked, it's a very fine-tuned process," Areola said. "We're bringing in 200 persons every 30 minutes and 400 an hour. A flow in place can be disrupted with 200 or 300 unexpected persons."

Johnson County residents Paul Carlton and Netti Biggs said their vaccine appointment Thursday couldn't have gone better.

The couple was originally concerned about what it might be like when they watched video of the lines earlier that week.

"We got there just before quarter to 10, and we were in the car leaving at eleven minutes after 10, this thing went really slick," Carlton said. "I want to thank the Johnson County Health Department, they have done an exceptional job of fixing whatever problems they had on the first day."

Areola said the county is not doing the vaccine clinics in a drive-thru fashion for several reasons.

"The primary concern is the weather, we are running these clinics with 50, 60 staff and so keeping them outside for four hours in this weather would be pretty harsh," Areola said.

Areola also said county officials don't believe drive-thru clinics would go as quickly.

In Cass County, Health Director Andrew Warlen said vaccine clinics will primarily be drive-thru.

"The one in the southern portion will be at the Cass County Road and Bridge Complex and the other will be up at one of our schools up in Belton," Warlen said.

Warlen said the county is waiting for vaccines, so dates and sign-ups aren't available yet. However, there is a survey on the county website.

Warlen said 19,000 people have filled it out as of Thursday.

Warlen said appointments will be required and are crucial to prevent a backup of cars.

"It does a huge amount to throttle the flow, not everyone shows up at 8 o'clock," Warlen said.

In an email, a Clay County spokesperson said the county isn't doing drive-thru clinics because of the weather, possibly having to cancel and safety concerns for staff.

"Nurses need to be able to have a certain amount of dexterity to be able to safely perform an injection and safely handle sharps. Our nurses wear procedural gloves, but cannot wear gloves or mittens, so there isn't a great way to keep hands warm enough," the spokesperson said.

The county said it may explore drive-thru clinics when it weather warms up.

A spokesperson for Platte County said officials have a variety of plans in place depending on the volume of vaccines. The options range from drive-up to walk-in, including large scale events.

As logistics come together for counties across the Kansas City metro, the people on the receiving end, like Netti Biggs, appreciate the hard work that means a needle in their arm.

"We're on our way to freedom," Biggs said.