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COVID vaccine increasingly available without appointments

Coronavirus in Kansas

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas counties are increasingly allowing people to walk in to get a coronavirus vaccine without an appointment as interest wanes.

In the Lawrence area, mass vaccination clinics at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, which had been immunizing almost 700 people per hour at their peak, are coming to an end next week. They will be replaced next month with five-day-per-week drive-thru clinics that will deliver 200 to 300 vaccinations per day to people at Lawrence Memorial Hospital without being scheduled in advance, the Lawrence Journal-World reports.

“We’re seeing that supply is now outpacing demand in Douglas County,” said Brian Bradfield, associate vice president of ancillary services for LMH Health.

The health department in Johnson County, which is the state’s largest, also opened a mass vaccination clinic in Lenexa to walk-ins on Wednesday and Thursday, WDAF-TV reports.

“We understand that internet is a challenge for some,” said Johnson County Health Director Dr. Sanmi Areola. “We understand that some, their job just really doesn’t give as much flexibility. So it’s also opportunities for them to get vaccinated.”

He said the plan is to size down, but not ditch, the mass vaccination sites, while scaling up small community events they’re already doing, like going into businesses, churches and schools.

In the Wichita area, appointments will not be needed starting Monday to get a vaccination at the former downtown library. And Wyandotte County also has opened its three clinics to people who don’t have appointments.

The shift comes as newly released state data shows that counties are increasingly turning away new doses, even though just 37% of the state’s residents are at least partially vaccinated.

Phillips County, in rural northwest Kansas, is among six that have rejected allocations for four straight weeks.

Pete Rogers, the county’s public health officer, told The Associated Press that part of the challenge is that Moderna is shipped in 100-dose batches, while the minimum amount of vaccine a location can order of Pfizer is 1,170 doses.

“It makes it difficult in rural Kansas to be good stewards of the vaccine,” he wrote in a text. “As is typical of the state, the larger populous areas are how the rules are set and rural areas are left to figure it out. We have to collaborate with area counties to receive those types of shipments and that takes time no one has.”

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