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Johnson & Johnson vaccination pause presents challenges for rural Kansans

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 10:34 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an important tool in vaccinating hard-to-reach groups. In Kansas, that includes farmers and ranchers who may live several miles outside of the nearest city limits. Whether they’re working in fields or tending to livestock, planning two trips into town for the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t easy.

“It’s a big deal to leave work and drive 30 minutes into town, not just once, but twice for the vaccine,” said COVID-19 Project Manager Genell Heimer.

For many, it’s more than an hour round trip, which is why in Saline County there were plans to bring one-shot doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to remote areas like Gypsum, Assaria and Brookville.

“We had anticpated between 50 to 75 doses we were planning on taking out ot each one of those locations,” Heimer said.

But with Johnson & Johnson vaccinations on pause the clinics were canceled on Tuesday (April 13). Now health officials in Saline County are waiting to see if the vaccine can soon get the go-ahead again. If not, they’ll have to find a way to efficiently get a two-dose vaccine into remote Kansan’s arms.

Even if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does get the green light soon, the pause may have created another challenge, potential hesitation to get the vaccine.

For now, Heimer said all they can do is wait to see what happens and to answer people’s questions. But she wants to emphasize that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and she encourages Kansans who haven’t yet received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to schedule an appointment.

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