The Unified Government Health Department today opened its three COVID-19 vaccination clinics to those Wyandotte County residents 65 and older who walk in.
Janell Friesen, Health Department spokesman, said that Zip Code restrictions no longer apply to the 65 and older group, and that those Wyandotte County residents 65 and older can walk in to one of the three clinics without an appointment.
The walk-in vaccinations will be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, she said. Those getting a vaccination need to bring proof of age and address, such as a driver’s license and mail.
She encouraged people to go to the clinic that is closer to where they live. The Health Department’s three vaccination clinics include the former Kmart building a 7836 State Ave., the former Best Buy store at 10500 Parallel Parkway, and the Kansas National Guard Armory at 100 S. 20th St.
Friesen said the Health Department is still doing some appointments for vaccinations. Those in critical work groups, such as meatpacking workers, should schedule appointments.
Those who are 65 and older who already had set up appointments can still come in, on the appointment date, if they want, she said.
Those who received a first dose and have an appointment for the second dose should come back on that date or as close to it as possible, she added.
“We have a good amount of vaccine supply this week, a bit more this week than in recent weeks, and we want to make sure we distribute those vaccines and get people in the age groups vaccinated,” she said.
“As we all know, people 65-plus have a higher risk of illness with COVID, we just want to remove one step in the process, one possible barrier to access,” she said.
They recently received a little under 4,000 doses, she said. Previously, they were receiving around 2,300 a week. The Health Department vaccinates people who live in Wyandotte County, as well as people who work in Wyandotte County and don’t live here, she said.
The Health Department reported Wednesday on its vaccine website that so far, it had vaccinated 20,796 people. Those vaccinated have received at least one dose.
Over the past few months the Health Department has increased its staff, contractors and volunteers to be able to run the three vaccination clinics, Friesen said.
Currently, the Health Department is primarily offering Pfizer vaccine at its sites, she said. They received a small amount of Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses, and they are looking at the possibility of using that vaccine for people who are hard to reach or homebound. There may also be some Moderna that are designated for second doses, she added.
Overcoming some residents’ fear of giving their information to the local government could be a hurdle here.
“I do think an ongoing concern that has come up through the pandemic, in testing and now vaccinations, is a matter of distrust and fear,” Friesen said. “People understandably aren’t always as trusting with health care organizations, government organizations, and they wonder about safety and privacy, and what happens with their information.
“We want to assure people that any information collected, is to make sure you are getting the vaccination you need,” she said. “We have to have the information.”
The information helps them make sure residents get their second dose, and also helps them determine how many people in the community are getting vaccinated, so they can see how the vaccinations are going. Information on vaccinations help them determine how soon they can open more things up, she added.
The information they collect is only for public health purposes and is not shared, she said.
Earlier Wednesday, Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health, said that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is encouraging counties to do more vaccinations, and not to hold onto the vaccine doses. He said the Kansas National Guard would be deployed Thursday to help with staffing for Wichita area vaccinations.
Friesen said the UG Health Department isn’t currently receiving any staffing help from National Guard personnel.
The Health Department works with different agencies for staffing, and there are volunteers helping, she said. Some volunteers do clinical work, while others help in administration or other work to keep the clinics running. An application form for volunteers who want to help with the clinic is at https://us.openforms.com/Form/721a30a3-c8b4-4652-bae4-04fd17fbbcd8.
While it’s great to see COVID-19 case rates declining, and the positivity rate declining, especially when compared to the end of 2020, they do worry there might be a little bit too low of a focus on testing, she said.
“COVID is still here and is still a threat in our community,” Friesen said. “If you have any of those symptoms, please get tested. If you’re exposed to COVID and are not vaccinated, please get tested.”
There are also other times they encourage testing, including activities and recreation.
Saliva test kits are available at the Health Department’s sites, she said. Residents can pick up a kit, register when they get there, take the kit home, and do the saliva test at their leisure. Then they return the test to the Health Department site or drop it in a FedEx drop box. The tests are free.
“Testing is still very much important,” she said. The Health Equity Task Force in Wyandotte County is focused on testing, with test sites throughout the community. During March, the Health Equity Task Force test sites are providing free groceries to people who come in for a test, she said.
For more information, visit wycokck.org/COVID-19.
KDHE loosens health restrictions a little
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Wednesday issued new guidance for residents who are vaccinated.
The rules are similar to guidance issued this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the KDHE, two weeks after Kansans receive their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or two weeks after they receive the single Johnson and Johnson vaccine, Kansans may gather in their private homes with other fully vaccinated people in small groups without masks or social distancing.
Vaccinated people may gather in private homes with unvaccinated people as long as the unvaccinated people are from a single household and are at low risk for developing severe disease, according to KDHE.
“These changes are an important step in moving forward,” Dr. Norman said. “This will allow grandparents to socialize with families, friends and neighbors to gather.”
While private home guidance has changed for those who are fully vaccinated, public health measures in public still apply to everyone, including those vaccinated, according to the KDHE. People need to wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, avoid poorly ventilated spaces and wash their hands often or use hand sanitizer, according to KDHE.
COVID-19 case numbers reported
COVID-19 patients decreased again on Wednesday at the University of Kansas Health System. The health system reported eight active COVID-19 patients, a decrease of three from Tuesday, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control. Two of the patients were in the intensive care unit, no change from Tuesday. There were another 20 COVID-19 patients in the hospital who were out of the acute infection phase, a decrease of three from Tuesday. In all, there were 28 COVID-19 patients at KU Health System, a decrease of six since Tuesday.
Wyandotte County reported an increase of 18 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, March 10, since Tuesday, March 9, for a cumulative 17,792 cases. There was a cumulative total of 273 deaths reported, no change since Tuesday.
The Mid-America Regional Council’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 160,996 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The daily average of new hospitalizations was 82. Cumulative deaths in the nine-county area were 2,268.
The state of Kansas reported 297,229 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, March 10, an increase of 778 cases since Monday. There were a total cumulative 4,851 deaths, an increase of 35 since Monday.
The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday night reported 29,148,354 cases in the United States, with 529,054 total deaths nationwide.
COVID-19 tests scheduled Thursday
Free COVID-19 tests are available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Vibrant Health Argentine location, 1428 S. 32nd, Kansas City, Kansas.
Appointments are not needed for the test at Vibrant Health, and anyone can be tested, regardless of symptoms or exposure to COVID-19. For more information, or to see if there is any change to the schedule, visit https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept.
The Pierson Community Center COVID-19 testing site at 831 S. 55th is open at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 11. Tests are through WellHealth. Appointments are required, check with the website, www.gogettested.com/Kansas, for available appointment times.
Another COVID-19 testing site will be at Lowe’s, 6920 State Ave., Kansas City, Kansas, at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 11. Tests are through WellHealth. Appointments are required, check with the website, www.gogettested.com/Kansas, for available appointment times. Another site on www.gogettested.com/Kansas is the Vibrant Health clinic at the former Bethany medical building at 21 S. 12th St.
Unified Government COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites are scheduled to be open on Thursday, March 11. The Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 test site at the former Kmart building at 78th and State will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, March 11. Appointments are not needed for COVID-19 tests there on Thursday. There are also UG Health Department locations for COVID-19 testing at the former Best Buy store, 10500 Parallel Parkway, and at the National Guard Armory, 100 S. 20th, (near 18th and Ridge), Kansas City, Kansas. More information is at https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19. To see if there is any change to the schedule, visit https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept.
The Health Department is offering saliva COVID-19 tests to the public. Tests from the Health Department are free for those who live or work in Wyandotte County.
The tests are open to asymptomatic people as well as those who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19. Check with the UG Health Department’s Facebook page to see if there have been any changes in the schedule. Bring something that shows that you live or work in Wyandotte County, such as a utility bill.
Walk-in vaccines available for those 65 and older
The UG Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccines Monday through Friday for Wyandotte County residents who are 65 and older.
Those Wyandotte County residents who are 65 or older can walk in and do not need an appointment from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at the vaccination sites at 7836 State Ave., 10500 Parallel Parkway and 100 S. 20th.
Those who are critical workers still need appointments for vaccines.
All those 65 and older should bring an ID or other proof of age, such as a driver’s license, government ID or birth certificate, as well as something showing their Wyandotte County address, such as an ID or a piece of mail.
Those Wyandotte County residents who are younger than 65 may fill out a form expressing interest in getting a vaccine at WycoVaccines.org or call 3-1-1.
Saliva testing is now offered at the UG Health Department. For more information, visit https://alpha.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/02042021-ugphd-saliva-testing-available.pdf.
The University of Kansas Health System COVID-19 update page is at https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/265130208445513.
A weekly vaccine report for the state of Kansas is at
Cards and letters of encouragement for caregivers at KU Health System may be sent to Share Joy, care of Patient Relations, 4000 Cambridge St., Mailstop 1021, Kansas City, Kansas, 66160. Emails can be sent to ShareJoy@kumc.edu.
Wyandotte County is under a mandatory mask and social distancing order.
The UG COVID-19 webpage is at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information.
The KDHE’s COVID-19 webpage is at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/.
The KC Region COVID-19 Hub dashboard is at https://marc2.org/covidhub/.
The Wyandotte County page on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 website is at https://bao.arcgis.com/covid-19/jhu/county/20209.html.
The Johns Hopkins Data in Motion, a presentation on critical COVID-19 data in the past 24 hours, is at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/covid-19-daily-video.