Kansas – Wyandotte County residents age 65 or older who live in three Zip Code areas now will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Unified Government Health Department.
Seniors in the 66101, 66102 and 66105 Zip Code areas will have first priority, according to the Health Department.
The residents must be signed up through a vaccination interest form on the Health Department’s website at
ughealth.info/vaccine, or at https://us.openforms.com/Form/f1edcf18-c07b-4efb-ad0d-49ded26c3000. Those who do not have an internet connection may call 3-1-1 for assistance in filling out te form. Updates will be sent to those who filled out the form, letting them know when they are eligible for the vaccine, when the vaccine is available and how to make an appointment.
Until now, in Phase 2, those 85 and older and high-contact critical workers could receive the vaccine in Wyandotte County after signing up.
According to Janell Friesen, Health Department public information officer, the Health Department with Dr. Jason Glenn, associate professor with the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center, developed a vulnerability index.
The index is intended to make the vaccine distribution more equitable and prioritize vaccines for residents at higher risk of exposure to the virus and serious illness or death from COVID-19, according to the spokesman. In the 66101, 66102 and 66105 Zip Codes, many residents do not have health insurance, and those areas have had the highest number of COVID-19 cases.
The second group of Zip Codes will be 66103, 66104, 66106, 66111 and 66112. The third group of Zip Codes will be 66109, 66012, 66115 and 66118.
A Health Department spokesman said there will likely be a similar prioritization of Zip Codes as the vaccines are given to the public of all ages later.
The Health Department also stated today that a new mass vaccination facility at 10500 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas, is now open for vaccines by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The site also has saliva testing kits available on a walk-in basis from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. The site is the former Best Buy store in the Plaza at the Speedway development.
The original vaccination site at 7836 State Ave. in the former Kmart building stil remains open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments are needed for vaccines, but not for COVID-19 test kits.
There are plans for an eastern Kansas City, Kansas, vaccination site later, according to the Health Department.
School vaccination plan
At a news conference at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Gov. Laura Kelly announced a back-to-school vaccination plan.
She said counties throughout the state would receive vaccine doses earmarked for kindergarten through 12th grade staff. Schools will also receive free rapid result testing supplies, she said.
This will allow the state to bring students back to in-person school safely, she said.
Gov. Kelly said the state is able to implement the back-to-school vaccination plan because it has received substantially more doses than previously. The state received about 45,000 doses four weeks ago, and 90,000 last week.
This week, Gov. Kelly said she was told by the White House that Kansas will receive 115,000 doses. In addition, there will be about 9,000 to 10 000 doses sent directly to pharmacies in the state, she added.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is currently working on a schedule for vaccinating teachers and school employees, she said. There will not be enough to vaccinate all of them next week, but it will take place over time, according to the governor.
Wyandotte County is ahead of the state’s plan to vaccinate teachers.
The Health Department here has already vaccinated most teachers and other staff, although there may still be some who need second doses, Friesen said. Teachers and school staff were prioritized locally, she said.
Vaccine supplies are still limited, she said.
Although the KDHE vaccination website listed Wyandotte County as receiving 3,900 vaccine doses this week, Friesen said the Health Department is not expecting to receive more than the 1,950 vaccines it has received in the past few weeks. They will be checking to find out why there is a difference between their number and the number listed on the state’s vaccine website.
While staff vaccinations are encouraged, at the Wednesday morning news conference at the University of Kansas Health System, Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control, said it was more important to wear a mask and make sure those in the classroom are spaced apart. Reducing the number of people in a room, spacing apart, along with wearing a mask all the time works, according to Dr. Hawkinson.
A lot of the spread that has taken place in schools has been when adults aren’t following the rules, are eating lunch with each other or are having meetings in small rooms, Dr. Hawkinson said.
As students return to school, it will be important for parents to make sure the children are getting enough sleep, according to Dr. Steve Lauer, pediatrician. Sleep patterns can get distorted when children are not in school.
Dr. Lauer said kids should get to sleep about the same time every night and get up around the same time. They need a regular amount of sleep, around eight hours.
About an hour before bedtime, all electronic devices should be turned off and lights and heat can be turned down, he said. A regular routine, such as a glass of milk and cookies, will be fine, he said. They should have the same routine every night. Meditation and calming activities also can be helpful.
COVID-19 case numbers reported
The total number of COVID-19 active and recovering COVID-19 patients at the University of Kansas Health System was 70 on Wednesday, the same as Tuesday, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control. There were 31 active COVID-19 patients in the hospital, an increase of two from Tuesday. Eight of those patients were in the intensive care unit, a decrease of one since Tuesday, with two of those on ventilators, a decrease of one since Tuesday. There were another 39 patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 who were out of the acute phase, a decrease of three since Tuesday.
Wyandotte County reported an increase of 33 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Feb. 17, according to the Unified Government’s COVID-19 webpage. There were a cumulative 17,421 cases. There was a cumulative total of 247 deaths, the same as Tuesday.
The Mid-America Regional Council’s COVID-19 dashboard reported 154,103 cumulative COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The daily average of new hospitalizations was 98.
The state of Kansas reported 288,717 COVID-19 cases statewide on Wednesday, an increase of 1,267 cases since Monday, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. There were an additional 115 deaths reported, with a cumulative total of 4,521.
The Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday night reported 27,825,077 cases in the United States, with 490,447 total deaths nationwide.
COVID-19 tests scheduled Thursday
Free COVID-19 tests are scheduled from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Vibrant Health Argentine location, 1428 S. 32nd St., Kansas City, Kansas. The testing is provided by Vibrant Health.
Unified Government COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites are scheduled to be open on Thursday.
The Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 test site at the former Kmart building at 78th and State will be open Thursday, Feb. 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are not needed for COVID-19 tests there on Thursday. 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.