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Metro Kansas City health departments and pharmacies begin COVID-19 vaccine booster roll-out

Registered nurse Raquel Garcia aims for the shoulder of Sofia Jimenez during a community vaccination at the Tony Aguirre Community Center for her second dose of the Moderna vaccine. Some groups of people who got the Moderna vaccine are now eligible for a booster shot.
Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
Registered nurse Raquel Garcia aims for the shoulder of Sofia Jimenez during a community vaccination at the Tony Aguirre Community Center for her second dose of the Moderna vaccine. Some groups of people who got the Moderna vaccine are now eligible for a booster shot.

As new COVID-19 cases decline, Kansas City-area pharmacies and local health departments begin to offer Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots.

More Kansas City metro residents can roll up their sleeves now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended COVID-19 booster shots for all three approved vaccines. This news comes as new cases in the metro decline after the summer's surge.

On Oct. 21, the CDC updated its guidance to recommend booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The agency recommended booster shots for the Pfizer vaccine last month.

The new recommendations also allow people to “mix and match” their shots by receiving a booster vaccine that differs from the one they originally got.

Dr. Steven Stites, the University of Kansas Health System’s chief medical officer, said the new guidelines will make the shot more accessible.

“There are some places that don't always have the best choices, so it's sometimes harder to find in some areas of the country the exact same shot as you got initially,” Stites said. “So they're saying to you, look, it works, just go get whichever one you want.”

Kansas and Missouri’s state health departments have adopted the guidance, allowing those who fall in the eligible categories to get their extra shot.

Those who received their Pfizer or Moderna vaccination at least six months ago can get their booster shot if they are:

  • 65 years and older
  • Over 18 years old and living in long-term care settings
  • Over 18 with underlying medical conditions
  • Over 18 and working or living in high-risk settings

Where to get a COVID-19 booster

Everyone over 18 years old who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is eligible for a booster shot at least two months after their initial dose.

Local pharmacies including Hyvee and Walgreens have already started offering the expanded list of boosters. CVS said it will offer the Moderna booster.

Regional health departments are now following suit.

The Johnson County Department of Health is set to begin offering Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters on Monday at its Mission clinic at 6000 Lamar Ave. Appointments can be made online.

Jackson County and Clay County’s health departments will also begin administering the new boosters on Monday.

The United Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, Health Department will have all three booster shots available on Wednesday at its vaccination site at 7836 State Ave.

Missouri State Health Director Donald Kauerauf said in a release that it was important that eligible people get their booster shots, but pointed out that 36% of Missourians over the age of 12 haven’t received their first dose.

“It’s not too late to do so,” said Kauerauf. “Taking that step now would provide one with a high level of protection for the holidays.”

COVID-19 case numbers decline

Kansas City health officials are also concerned about the area’s lagging vaccination rates. As of Oct. 21, only about 48% of residents were fully vaccinated.

Still, new COVID-19 cases are declining across the Kansas City metro area. According to Mid-America Regional Council data, as of Oct. 13 the seven-day rolling average for daily cases in the region had fallen to 276, down from 644 last month.

Frank Thompson, interim director of the Kansas City Health Department, recently told the city council that if the downward trend continues, they could begin to consider easing up on the city's mask mandate.

The Prairie Village City Council voted last week to let its mask mandate expire at the end of month.

Dr. Dana Hawkinson, KU’s medical director of infection prevention and control, said he remains concerned about easing up on masking restrictions.

“We know it increases the risk of spreading it to people. We know it increases the risk of spreading it to those people that are most vulnerable as well,” Hawkinson said. “The other caveat to this is we know that there continues to be a large number of eligible people who are unvaccinated, and so that will help the spread as well.”

A vaccine for children five to 11 years old could be on its way in a matter of weeks if the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is federally authorized for the age group. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s independent advisory committee meeting is set to meet on Oct. 26.

Pfizer-BioNTech announced last week that clinical trials found that the lower dose given to children appeared to be more than 90% effective against symptomatic COVID.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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