JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds, area hospitals and county health departments are wasting no time.
Dr. Sanmi Areola with the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said their top priority is keeping 56,000 kids between ages 5 and 11 safe in the county. He hopes the new vaccine roll out does that.
“We’ve given hundreds of millions of doses of this vaccine. They were tested in this age group and the dosage was found to be very very effective. And safe,” Areola said.
He added that the United States has the best safeguards for getting vaccines into the market. E=
Now, eager parents are flocking to their online portal to sign up. In fact, they estimate 200 kids will be vaccinated by the end of their first vaccination clinic.
“The last time I checked this morning, we have no appointments open until November 29,” Areola said.
He encouraged parents to be patient, as pediatric vaccination takes more time due to privacy and specialization.
“I am asking people to sustain the level of interest. And if we vaccinate 1,000… 1,500 this week, that's 1,000 fewer persons that will be competing for appointments next week,” Areola said.
The county is working with area school districts to figure out logistics for a vaccine clinic on school campuses. KDHE is also open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday for working parents.
The University of Kansas Health System said they received about 4,500 doses of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine and have already vaccinated 74 children since Saturday.
While they are offering the vaccine to kids who already have other appointments at the doctor’s office, they will start hosting blitz clinics at their Prairie Village and Sutherland locations.
The Sutherland location will be open from 4:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
“Families, especially with school aged kids, have struggled this last year and a half about, you know, getting exposed to Covid and having to go into quarantine,” registered nurse Kelly McKeegan said. “From the moment they heard that we have the Pfizer vaccine here, they want to know ‘When and where can I be? I will be where you want me to be as soon as possible.’”
At University Health, they have vaccinated about 20 children as of Monday afternoon. Pediatric physician Joanne Loethen said it was a long time coming for many families.
“As far as I know it's been pretty robust. We’ve already had several people coming in to the clinic and to the hospital and asking, or with their kids, and asking where they can get the vaccine. Everybody is very anxious to get it and I think there’s been a lot of enthusiasm around it,” Loethen said.
The Clay County Health Department also started rolling out their vaccines on Monday. Children’s Mercy saw 600 children at their first Saturday clinic over the weekend and it took only an hour and a half to fill those appointments.
For more information on available time slots and vaccination clinic locations for kids, head to these websites:
- Clay County Health Department
- Johnson County Department of Health and Environment
- Jackson County Health Department
- Children’s Mercy Hospital
- University Health: Highly recommends making an appointment by calling 816-404-2273
- University of Kansas Health System: Appointment can be made through an existing MyChart account or by calling 913-588-1227