KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Those who have longed to drive a lap around the Kansas Speedway now have a chance – but there's a catch, a COVID-19 vaccine or saliva test.
The Race to End COVID-19 event, organized by the Kansas Speedway, the University of Kansas Health System, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Wyandotte County Unified Government, is one of several being held in the Kansas City metro to increase vaccination rates.
Anyone currently eligible for a vaccine can participate in the Kansas Speedway event, regardless of residency.
Dr. Allen Greiner, health officer for the Wyandotte County Unified Government Health Department, said the county is lagging behind on vaccinations.
"We had a real big surge in January and February, but we've seen a drop off in interest," Greiner said, "and we know there's a big group of people out there in the population that are still eligible and still at risk."
Greiner said he hopes the fun experience of driving on the speedway will give people the nudge they need to get vaccinated.
"This is a chance to do something fun," he said, "beautiful weather today and tomorrow, do something fun but also do something that protects your health, but really protects the community too."
There is no need to pre-register for the event. People can choose between the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The event also includes a raffle with prizes.
Anyone driving on the track must show a valid driver's license and proof of registration and insurance.
The event is one of many across the metro lately that have included incentives to get vaccinated.
The latest data shows 33% of people in Wyandotte County have received at least one dose. That compares to the 42% rate for the state. Kansas Department of Health and Environment data show people 18 years old and younger have received the least amount of vaccines.
In Missouri, 52% of people have received at least one dose.
Doctors said there's no need to worry about having a hard time finding a vaccine anymore.
"I think you could probably just walk into most either health systems, clinics, or those private pharmacies as well," said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infections disease specialist for the University of Kansas Health System.
Hawkinson said people should "really contemplate" getting vaccinated.
"It's going to be the best thing for those around you and for your community," Hawkinson said.
The Race to End Covid-19 event ended at 8 p.m. Friday and runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Organizers ask everyone in a car either get tested or receive a vaccine in order to drive laps around the track.