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The Best Times

Hang in there for a vaccination

February 23, 2021

Gerald HayPatience is a virtue. That popular saying is centuries old and worth repeating now.

At age 73, I’m among the aging adults who have signed up at the end of January to receive one of now two approved and effective vaccines against the COVID-19 virus. Since then, it has been a hurry up and wait in scheduling and receiving a vaccination.

Vaccines are being shipped to Kansas and Johnson County – but you won’t be able to get one instantly. There are an estimated more than 90,000 residents in the county who are 65-plus. Some folks in their 80s and older, who were in the first phase of focus, still have not been vaccinated and remain a top priority.

The vaccination rollout has had bumps nationally and statewide, but the process is improving in early 2021. More vaccines are becoming available in the days, weeks and months ahead in Johnson County and elsewhere.

Is it still frustrating? As a two time cancer survivor now with early chronic kidney disease, it is for me since I am now listed in the current second phase among others who are 65 and older. Many of us have signed up to receive our vaccination but are still waiting for a call or email when to be immunized.

My message is: Hang in there.

Late last year, we welcomed the news of multiple effective vaccines for the disease caused by the pandemic coronavirus. Developing a useful vaccine was one giant hurdle overcome, but as we now know, we had yet to face the other hurdle of manufacture and distribution on a scale the nation has never seen before.

It’s a hurdle that Kansas continues to confront. Vaccine supply in our state remains limited in addressing the needs of 105 counties. Johnson County officials don’t know week-to-week how many doses they will receive. At this point, we must make the best of a challenging situation.

On the bright side: Thousands of doses have been administered locally and across the state. They’ve gone to crucial workers in our healthcare systems and to residents who are believed to be most likely to need hospitalization should they catch the coronavirus.

We had hoped to see more people vaccinated by now, but we’re thankful for the headway we have witnessed in protecting key parts of our medical infrastructure. First doses have helped to protect frontline healthcare workers who were most likely to be exposed and helped to keep older and immunocompromised people out of the hospital to start with. That effort was aimed at curtailing the risk of hospitals and healthcare systems from not being overwhelmed by staffing or supply shortages in treating patients who do come down with the disease or being hospitalized for other reasons.

For the 65-plus population, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) has provided vaccines to KU Med, Olathe Health, Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional, St. Luke’s and Advent Health healthcare systems. These health systems will book appointments based upon vaccine availability, but do not call for an appointment. You will be contacted
by them.

We anticipate more pharmaceutical companies rolling out their vaccines. Plans also are in the works for more sites for vaccinations, including local pharmacies to get more vaccine into the arms of residents of all ages.

So, regardless of which shot you end up getting, you’re still a lot less likely to end up in the hospital than if you didn’t get vaccinated at all.

If you haven’t completed the JCDHE’s interest form to sign up for a vaccination, please do and then be prepared to get vaccinated when supply becomes available and you’re notified.

Access to the form is on the county’s webpage at jocogov.org/covid-19-vaccine. If you’re a Johnson County resident/worker who is eligible in Phase 2 and you haven’t taken the vaccine interest survey, fill out the form or call 913-715-2819.

Shot by shot, we’ll eventually get through this.

Hang in there.

Be patient.

Stay safe.