By Jennifer Dunlay
Adults over age 65 in Johnson County, Kan. are setting records for COVID-19 vaccinations. As of April 14, more than 80% of adults over age 65 in Johnson County, Kan. have received their first
dose of the vaccine and 62% are fully vaccinated.
These numbers don’t surprise Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, as older adults are most at risk for severe disease and death from COVID-19.
“The pandemic has taken a toll on our senior adult population,” Areola said. “We are pleased that so many older adults are getting the vaccine that will protect them from COVID-19 and allow them to resume activities they have missed doing over the last year – visiting with family and friends, traveling, going to restaurants and attending religious services in person.”
Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended in the United States to prevent COVID-19, although use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on pause pending further review.
The vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing death, hospitalization and severe illness from COVID-19. JCDHE offers both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at its clinic. These are two dose vaccines given three or four weeks apart.
Areola says that even though the vaccine may preventyou and those around you from getting seriously ll, vaccinated individuals still need to take precautions, like wearing a mask, frequent handwashing and avoiding crowds, while the virus is circulating in the community. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available, he adds.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we need more of our population to get vaccinated before we can claim victory,” he says. Areola would like to see 75% or more of the county’s eligible population to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by the end of the summer.
Even if you had COVID-19, vaccination is still recommended as experts don’t know how long natural immunity may last. The vaccine protects you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness.
Anyone age 16 and older who wants a COVID-19 vaccine can schedule an appointment at jocogov.org/covidvaccine. If internet access is not available, call 913- 715-2819 for assistance. Vaccine is given at the county’s vaccination site located at 15500 W. 108th St. in Lenexa.
All of Johnson County’s health systems and many local pharmacies also provide the vaccine. A list of vaccine providers can be found at vaccinefinder.org or at jocogov.org/covid-19-vaccine/how-do-I-get-a-vaccine.
Note: Information in this article subject to change and was accurate at the time this publication was printed.
Jennifer Dunlay is risk communicator at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.