Demand drops for vaccine

Allen County residents have the highest vaccination rate of area counties but demand for the COVID-19 shots have dropped significantly. A little more than 31% of county residents have received at least one dose.

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April 21, 2021 - 9:30 AM

Volunteers finish the checkout process after receiving shots. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Local health departments have stopped accepting new shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine because of decreased demand. 

Allen County residents have been vaccinated at higher rates than others in the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Departments, but demand here is starting to drop, too, according to administrator Rebecca Johnson.

Turnout at vaccination clinics has dwindled in recent weeks. Those who want to be vaccinated most likely have already gotten the shots, either from the health department or another provider, Johnson said.

Rebecca Johnson is director of the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Departments.Photo by Tim Stauffer / Iola Register

“In all counties, we’ve had a large decline and have been giving only 10-20 doses per clinic,” she said.

As a result, the health departments are not accepting additional shipments of the vaccine. The state also has paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine after federal officials cited concerns for a slight risk of blood clots.

Johnson said she’d like to see more residents vaccinated, but “it’s a personal choice.”

According to statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, a little more than 31% of Allen County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The county has the highest vaccination rate of the four counties in the SEKMCHD system, which includes Anderson, Bourbon and Woodson counties.

The numbers are:

Allen County: 314.7 residents with at least one dose for every 1,000 residents.

Anderson: 299.4.

Bourbon: 244.3.

Woodson: 277.9.

The SEKMCHD reports it had delivered 2,980 doses of vaccine to Allen County residents as of April 19; Anderson had 1,430; Bourbon, 2,351 and Woodson, 890. That could include both first and second doses.

Active cases have dropped significantly, with only five current cases in Allen County, one in Anderson, eight in Bourbon and two in Woodson. 

Statewide, about 36.4% of Kansas residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Johnson said she continues to post updates and clinic information on the health department’s Facebook and website, along with newspaper and radio announcements. She’s also spoken on television and radio interviews to encourage vaccination.

JOHNSON also recommends residents continue wearing facemasks in public, even those who are fully vaccinated.

She said she’s concerned about the variants that have been identified in Kansas. Those variants are known to spread more rapidly and could potentially cause more hospitalizations and deaths.

The CDC has identified Kansas as having 106 cases of the UK variant, two South African variants and one Brazilian variant. 

“This is reason enough for me to recommend continuing to wear masks in public,” Johnson said. 

The CDC recommends anyone who is eligible should be vaccinated. All adults are now eligible. 

It takes two weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated, and two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

After you are fully vaccinated, the CDC says it’s safe to:

— Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with other fully vaccinated people of any age.

— Visit inside a home or private setting without a mask with one household of unvaccinated people who are not at risk for severe illness.

— Travel domestically without a pre- or post-travel test.

— Travel domestically without quarantining after travel.

— Travel internationally without a pre-travel test depending on destination.

— Travel internationally without quarantining after travel.

However, it is not safe to:

— Visit indoors, without a mask, with people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

— Attend medium or large gatherings.

Allen County Commissioners and area school districts have relaxed their mask mandates in recent weeks. Businesses, though, may continue to demand their customers wear masks on the premises.

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