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Transcript of JoCo on the Go podcast 01/29/2021

Theresa Freed 00:00

Johnson County's 80 and plus residents are rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine. On this episode hear how the pandemic has impacted this demographic and the relief offered by this shot.

Announcer 00:12

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed 00:25

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go, I'm your host Theresa Freed a Johnson County resident and employee of Johnson County government. Phase Two officially started on Monday, January 25th in Johnson County. Phase Two includes a large group of people so the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has added tiers and additional subgroups eligible to get the vaccine. This week. It's those 80 and older plus those who were in Phase One who didn't already get their shot. Phase One is also getting their second doses this week. Here to talk more about that is Johnson County Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola and Epidemiology Director Elizabeth Holzshuh, they provided the latest on vaccine distribution during a news conference on Thursday, January 28.

Dr. Sanmi Areola 01:09

We're getting a lot of calls from people that are 71 or 72 or 65. Saying Phase Two is 65. plus. Yes, you do qualify. But like we've said, this is a very, very large group. So we are doing our best to prioritize even within that group. We still don't have enough vaccines. And as we get more vaccines, and we continue to vaccinate more people, you will get more opportunity to get to get to you. And so now, we will open up to the 65 plus, and I do want to spend some time talking about that. We have been clear throughout the process that this is a local public health system activity, meaning that it's not just the Department of Health and Environment, it is all the other resources in the county, it is our hospitals. And and they are willing, I will be working with them. Again, the key factor is they just don't have enough vaccine. But the good news is the result of that collaboration. I mean, we're beginning to see some of the results of that collaboration. beginning next week, at least two of them. Advent, and Olathe Health will begin to vaccinate residents in the 65 plus category, obviously, they will focus on patients that are already in their system. And that's a good thing on our side. As soon as we get more vaccine, we'll begin to look for opportunities to fill in the gaps for those people that are not affiliated with those hospitals. And next week, when we get more vaccine, we expect more of the hospitals also to to begin to vaccinate. So stay tuned. Obviously, read and follow instructions from those hospitals as you receive them. I also don't want them to get overwhelmed because I know they only have a few doses too. So patience by far is what we are asking everyone that's listening to us to exercise that as we get more doses, we will be putting the vaccine into the arms of people as quickly as we can. So that's that's ongoing. And the key part of it, which Ms. Hozschuh will talk about is the small doses that's going to Children's Mercy.

Elizbeth Holzschuh 04:07

Good afternoon, Elizabeth Holzschuh, director of epidemiology. Yes. So we have been working very closely with Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas, to really allow them to vaccinate are the individuals in our community who are caring for our children, that is the their patient population, they're very interested in trying to protect those patients. And so they have been really gracious and been excellent community partners and stepped forward and being very willing to really spearhead the vaccination efforts around our K through 12 public schools, our private and parochial schools in our community, as well as our childcare providers, both home and daycare centers. And those vaccinations. We're very excited to have those starting next week. And the first round of individuals will be immunizing are going to be our special education teachers as well as the staff at the School of the Deaf. These individuals have been at an increased risk during this pandemic, both those individuals as well as those students that they work with because of an inability for individuals to be masked and masked properly. And what this means is those students have been quarantined multiple times, usually during the pandemic so far, meaning that they are having to go home for a number of days, they can't be in school, they can't be receiving these services. And so in an attempt to protect those high risk students, protect those staff, we are going to move forward in our first round about 1900 doses are going to go to vaccinating those individuals with our K through 12. Schools and the School for the Deaf. And this is really being orchestrated through the school districts. So they are in charge of identifying individuals in this group to be immunized. In the following weeks. As long as vaccine supply stays where we think it is, we will move forward with immunizing a proportion of the public school staff, as well as moving into vaccinating child care providers in our community as well. And those will again be run by Children's Mercy in partnership with the Department of Health and Environment. So if you are one of these individuals, if you are a teacher, in a school district or in a private or parochial school, we recommend you reach out to your administration. If you're a childcare provider, and you're looking for additional information, please reach out to Eldonna Chesnut, and our childcare licensing program is all information around these immunization clinics will be funneled through those individuals.

Dr. Sanmi Areola 06:28

Thank you, Elizabeth. And, again, it's a marathon and it's a long, long marathon. By far, the biggest hurdle that we are having to cross is availability of vaccine. If we do we are going to move quicker through these different tiers and categories and get vaccines into the arms of our residents as quickly as we can. Again, we are approaching this using multiple multi pronged approach. We're going to make the vaccines available through multiple providers in the county. Some of them you already have relationship with where you get your flu shots. That's kind of what we're working on why we're also working on filling in the gaps and providing vaccines to you. And I know, I know you have a lot of questions. And I know that because of the volume, of course that we've been receiving from you. We're going to continue to do our best to answer those questions on websites, and social media and different things. And just we're gonna ask for your patience. I do want to touch on one key question that we've been receiving about second doses. And I and I want to make that very clear. Number one, we have your second dose. So we're not using your second dose, to give first dose and second dose come completely differently. And they are shipped even without us requesting for those things. So they are here. You also don't need to go looking or go to other jurisdictions to get your second dose. Your second dose should be received where you get your first dose from. If you got your first dose through us, we will have the second dose ready for you. It is here. And I'm trying to address all the different questions that we're getting in terms of the process. Also, if your second dose is not due for another two or three weeks, we may not be communicating with you right now we are communicating with people whose second doses are due next week. And the email and phone number went out yesterday and this morning with instructions on how to book a spot. We do need to spread things out for the hours that we are open. So we don't have everybody there in a 30 minute or one hour stretch and and our system becomes overwhelmed. That's why we're asking you to to book an appointment and select some of the slots that we have. We have in the next week. We have about 2500 persons that are due their second doses, those will be available those information have been sent out and you just need to show up and also important that it doesn't have to be exact. So say your second dose is due next Tuesday. And you are working and you couldn't make it that's okay. Come on Wednesday, come on Thursday. If an appointment is available, you book an appointment. Technically you can get your second dose up to 42 days from the time that you received the first dose. So keep that in mind. There's no need to panic. We have the doses here. We are going to open up the appearly next week appointments for you to book we'll send the information to you book those appointment and you're sure you get your shot. If you can't make it That date just booked the next available date that you have, there's no need to worry about those they are available. And that's the procedure that we're using.

Elizbeth Holzschuh 10:08

So we are starting to get some information from the state of Kansas about the number of individuals in our community who have been immunized. And while the data does lag to some degree because it requires it to be entered at the each site of the immunization, it appears as though at least about 30,000 residents of Johnson County have received their first dose. And again, this will include healthcare workers, individuals living in our long term care facilities, as well as EMTs. And other individuals in phase one and starting into phase two. So particularly in that 80 and above category from this week, and so that 30,000 have received at least their first dose, and we believe somewhere between about five and 10,000 individuals in our county have received their second dose, we will continue to work with the state of Kansas to continue to obtain this information on a routine basis and try and get that information out as regularly as possible.

Theresa Freed 11:01

Next up, we have with us Debbie Collins with Johnson County's aging and Human Services Department. Thanks for being here.

Debbie Collins 11:09

Thank you for having me.

Theresa Freed 11:10

All right. Well, first off, can you just talk a little bit about your department. There was recently some reorganization so not everyone's probably familiar with Aging and Human Services. It was previously Human Services. Can you talk about that?

Debbie Collins 11:21

Sure. Well, the the the reorganization was really an effort to try to place more emphasis on the aging side of the service programs that we provide. And so by taking the housing program out of human services, and moving that over to the planning department, that really freed us up to spend more time and place more emphasis on the aging, aging issues, because as you're probably well aware, and I'm sure most of the listeners are aware of the increasingly larger population, the growing population of people who are over the age of 60, which is really that's the threshold that we start serving people on the aging side. So we have well over 100,000 people right now in Johnson County that are 60 Plus, and about 20,000 of them are 80 and older. And those are the folks that we tend to focus the most on because they you know, tend the older you get the tendency to need more supports and services increases.

Theresa Freed 12:25

Can you talk a little bit about sort of the specific aging services that residents are receiving?

Debbie Collins 12:33

Yeah, that's, that's where I was going next. So our triple A, the aging side of our department actually provides a number of different types of services that are beneficial for people aged 60. and above. information and assistance is one of our largest programs, we get calls all day long from people that are looking for information about long term care, various different aging services, caregiver support In-Home Services, various different you know, issues that people are having, because either they or a loved one is experiencing some difficulties in remaining in their home. So we have a fantastic group of people that provide information and assistance to those folks. And I would just put in a plug for the phone number, which is 913-715-8861. So if anybody is needing that kind of information, please feel free to call us.

Theresa Freed 13:31

So when we talk about the pandemic, it's had a huge impact on this demographic. We're talking about being higher risk for complications, hospitalizations, and death. So they've been spending a lot of time in their homes too and luckily, we've been able to provide some services to them during this pandemic. Can you talk a little bit about just how COVID is has impacted them? What are you hearing?

Debbie Collins 13:56

Well, for sure. You know, COVID has had an impact on every single individual in our community, but probably even more so on people that are older, our older adult population already have issues with isolation and loneliness. And COVID really just kind of sealed that deal. shet those who, you know, who are lucky enough to have family members in town, kind of had to stop visiting, you know, with their family members. It just it really did have an impact on their ability to see other people. They, you know, many of the folks who are still mobile and can still get out into the community are very hesitant, because they're nervous and worried about the fact that they are older and that they are more susceptible to getting the virus. So there's their visits to grocery stores and whatnot have been very limited. Essentially, it's just they have really felt a much stronger sense of isolation than probably the rest of our population and that oftentimes leads to depression issues, you know, which is never, which is never an easy thing to treat. But so you know, my advice to anybody who has a loved one who is an older person here in Johnson County or anywhere, is to do what you can to try to keep connected. telephone calls are great. Unfortunately, technology has kind of connected the rest of the world. But many older adults don't have access to technology, they don't have laptops or computers at home, they don't necessarily understand or know how to use the technology that could potentially keep them in touch with their loved ones. So that even adds to their sense of isolation, where the rest of us have kind of been able to adapt somewhat, you know, through the use of technology, you know,

Theresa Freed 15:50

you talk about the the isolation, and then also the health consequences of the pandemic. I mean, all those are serious issues that are impacting this group, how important is it that they have the vaccine and in what are you hearing from them about their, I guess, maybe anticipation of that?

Debbie Collins 16:11

Well, it's very, it's been very clear, especially since phase two has opened. And now people over the age of 80, are eligible to get the vaccine been very clear that people are anxious to get it, just by virtue of the great turnout that we've already had and seen in the vaccination clinics. They are anxious, they are most, for the most part, really very excited to get the vaccine and kind of look at this as sort of the end of the pandemic, even though you know, they are always coached to continue with all of the universal precautions that we put in place like masking and social distancing, and all of that, but they definitely this vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel for many of our older adults. Some of them are still nervous and worried about, you know, the side effects and that sort of thing. And that's, that's a normal reaction. But for the most part, the people that I've talked to and the folks that we have interacted with, have been really excited to get the vaccine and are very grateful that they've had the opportunity to do so.

Theresa Freed 17:18

Alright, just last question for you. If we have some of our listeners in the older adult category, how can they get in touch with you? You mentioned the phone number. Is there a web web page where they can get more information as well

Debbie Collins 17:30

there is that the aging and Human Services Department does have a web page that is part of the Johnson counties overall you can find us on the on the Joko gov.org and go to ageing and human services under departments. So you can reach us there or give us a call at 7158861 number and we can get started with whatever services and questions you might have.

Theresa Freed 17:57

All right. That is all great information. And that thank you again for being with us. I know our listeners will benefit from some of the information you've shared today.

Debbie Collins 18:06

Thank you, Theresa.

Announcer 18:07

You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JoCoGov. For more on this podcast visit Joko gov.org forward slash podcast. Thanks for listening