By Joe Stumpe
The Active Age
Sedgwick County has open appointments for free COVID-19 vaccines for people 70 and older, and those people can telephone for appointments if they aren’t able to register online. The appointments are for next week and beyond.
“I know it’s awfully cold” but the county wants older residence to be vaccinated Adrienne Byrne, Sedgwick County health director, said Thursday.
On Tuesday, the telephone number to call for appointments was set to receive messages instead of being answered, “and we got a thousand messages in five hours,” Byrne said, adding that she didn’t know why that happened. County employees spent Wednesday contacting those people who left messages.
The number — 660-1029 — was being answered again Thursday, although Byrne said callers might receive a busy signal one or more times before getting through. The call center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Byrne asked anyone with general questions about the vaccine to all another number: 660-1022.
To set up an appointment online, go to Sedgwick.org and click on the blue banner that reads: “Now Vaccinating Residents 70 and older and Health Care Associated Workers.”
Another person can fill out the registration form for a resident 70 and older but they will need certain information such as a phone number and the person’s age.
The county is administering the vaccine at two sites: Intrust Bank Arena and the Wichita Transit center at 777 E. Waterman. The appointments now available start next week and include Monday, which is the Presidents’ Day holiday.
Because of the frigid weather, more seating has been opened up inside Intrust Bank Arena so that no one has to wait outside. Byrne said the vaccinations are running smoothly and people do not need to arrive more than 15 to 20 minutes ahead of their appointment.
The transit center is offering drive-thru vaccinations, intended for people with mobility issues. The arena also has wheelchairs available.
People receiving vaccinations are allowed to be accompanied by a family member, friend or caretaker. The person being vaccinated must bring identification showing their age. If they registered online, they should print out and bring that form. However, if they cannot or forget to do, they can get one at the arena.
Byrne estimated that about 25 percent of county residents 75 and older have received a vaccine.
“There’s still a lot of our older residents that really need to get in and get vaccinated,” she said. “I’m sure this weather isn’t helping.”
The county began offering the vaccine to residents 70 and older on Friday. ‘I’m waiting two weeks ‘til this cold front comes through,’ that is totally fine,” she said. “We just want to get people vaccinated and particularly the most vulnerable.”