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Kansas’ elderly are being vaccinated, when will it be safe to visit?

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas is officially in phase two of its vaccination plan. The vaccine is available to people aged 65 and older.

The state left it to health officials in each county to decide who gets the vaccine and when. In Sedgwick County, people 83 years old and older are allowed to schedule their first shots.

Mary Johnson, 94, joined the thousands of Kansans now vaccinated. She is one step closer to immunity from the coronavirus.

“It’s giving lots of hope to people that we’ll get together again,” the Wichita Presbyterian Manor resident said.

For many of Kansas’ elderly, much of the past year has been spent in isolation as they are deemed high-risk for developing serious complications from the coronavirus.

“I’m tired of this. Taking care of people, not getting to see them and everything. And not getting to visit family,” Johnson said.

Now, she is waiting for her second vaccine dose and the day it will be safe to see loved ones. That raises the question: when will it be safe to visit again?

“It is not yet safe to resume gatherings because we don’t have enough people vaccinated. When will that change or will they change if you have people who are vaccinated? It’s too soon to tell,” said Dr. Tom Moore, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Wesley Medical Center.

According to Moore, two doses of the vaccine give high immunity that does not eliminate all risks.

“The problem is that in some cases, you can actually acquire the virus and transmit it to somebody who’s vulnerable even though you yourself won’t get the infection from the virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, instead of holding on to each other the Johnson family is holding on to hope.

“Mary has been the glue for our family forever,” said Lana Johnson, Mary’s daughter-in-law.

“We have new babies born since she’s been locked down that she’s not getting to see or getting to hold and we aren’t either. So, the generations need to meet each other,” Lana Johnson said hopefully.

Dr. Moore said two challenges in the way of returning back to normal are vaccine supply and people not wanting to take it.

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