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Kansas City Holds ‘Mega Vaccination’ Event At Arrowhead Stadium To Inoculate 8,000 People

Greg Neteler receives his dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday. Neteler had previously contracted COVID-19 and spent seven days in the hospital. "It was hell and I don't ever want it again," he said.
Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
Greg Neteler receives his dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday. Neteler had previously contracted COVID-19 and spent seven days in the hospital. "It was hell and I don't ever want it again," he said.

The Friday and Saturday vaccination effort is by appointment only.

About 8,000 Jackson County residents will receive coronavirus vaccinations at the city’s first “mega vaccination” event which started Friday and continues Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.

“This is exactly the kind of event that brings us one step closer to the end of this terrible pandemic,” Truman Medical Centers executive chief clinical officer Dr. Mark Steele said.

The two-day event uses the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one shot. By late morning Friday, it took about 40 minutes from start to finish to get vaccinated at the drive-through site, according to a Missouri Department of Public Safety spokesman.

Greg Neteler said he was grateful to get vaccinated after contracting the coronavirus late last year.

“I spent seven days in the hospital in November. I had blood clots in my lungs,” Neteler said. “It was hell, and I don't ever want it again. I've been waiting for this day.”

Anita Byrne was in one of the first cars lined up Friday morning. The 57-year-old wanted to keep those around her safe, especially her older parents.

“I'm so happy. I got a lump in my throat,” Byrne said.

Head on shot of two lines of cars separated by a line of orange traffic cones with health workers wearing coats and hats talking with drivers who have arrived at a mass vaccination site.
Carlos Moreno
The first visitors to Arrowhead Stadium receive their Johnson & Johnson vaccine shots Friday morning as other cars line up behind them.

In Jackson County and Kansas City, about 19% of residents have received the first dose, which is less than the state average of 21%, according to state data. The state breaks down vaccination supply by region. The Kansas City region — which spans 13 counties — has received about 20% of the state’s allocation while making up 23% of the state population.

We knew all along with the limited number [of vaccines] we had in the beginning, that [it] was going to be very difficult to keep it evenly across the state of Missouri,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “When it comes to St. Louis and Kansas City, it is going to be a longer process, simply because the populations are so large.”

Jackson County Executive Frank White said the mass vaccination effort is “essential to the safety of our residents.”

“This is especially true for our communities of color who have been devastated by this dangerous and deadly disease,” White said.

State Sen. Barbara Anne Washington, a Kansas City Democrat, said she pushed for outreach about the vaccination event to residents living in zip codes where a large share of the population lives below the poverty level.

“We need to prioritize those low-income people who are more susceptible to the disease and don't necessarily have a way to get out here,” Washington said.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is providing free transportation to the vaccination site on Friday and Saturday.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman was the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3.
As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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