Young adults among groups Sedgwick County trying to reach in encouraging more to get vaccinated

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 10:28 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Sedgwick County continues to push for more people to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a large percentage of those eligible in the county have yet to sign up. County leaders say they’re seeing it across all age groups.

“If we don’t improve our vaccination (participation), I don’t think we’re going to get 50 percent of our population vaccinated,” Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz said. “...That’s a bad scenario because the virus will then continue to perpetuate. It continues to spread to the non-vaccinated.”

That has Sedgwick County working to get those who have yet to get a shot to line up. The county is partnering with the medical community to better explain the science that went into the vaccine.

“So there’s so many pieces to that Operation Warp Speed that really haven’t adequately been explained, that it really has left this taste in a lot of people’s mouths and has added to that ambivalence,” said Sedgwick County Health Director Adrienne Byrne.

One of the groups the county is reaching out to is young adults, those in their late teens to 30s.

“It’s about the community and about those you love that maybe aren’t as impermeable to this virus as you think they are. That’s kind of the message we try to use,” Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz said.

To get that done, the county is putting less of a reliance on its mass vaccination site, instead looking at temporary or mobile clinics where these populations are at, like college campuses.

“We do believe that our students need to become vaccinated. While it’s not a requirement, it’s a strong encouragement and we believe in taking care of the greater community by each of us doing our part,” said Newman University Dean of Students Christine Schneikart-Luebbe.

Schneikart-Luebbe said Newman surveyed its students this week and found more than 70 percent that responded said they’d take advantage of an on-campus vaccination clinic. She said “a number of students” have already been vaccinated.

She said the university has experienced hosting a vaccination clinic with the VA, so some groundwork is already in place, and this is just one more step toward normalcy.

“Everybody is anxious. We see the finish line, but we want to take the time we need to take to get there successfully,” Schneikart-Luebbe said.

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