by Mary Rupert
Only about 43 percent of Wyandotte County residents got their flu shots last year, which is why officials are trying to get residents out to a free flu shot clinic on Saturday in Kansas City, Kansas.
U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., visited the Mercy and Truth Clinic on Thursday to encourage residents to attend the Saturday event.
She said not many people realize how many individuals are trying to access affordable health care.
“When we think about how important preventative care is, the flu shot is one of the best ways we can help folks, especially coming into flu season,” Rep. Davids said.
The Warm Up Wyandotte event will be from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 9, at the clinic at 721 N. 31st St., Kansas City, Kansas.
Besides 200 free flu shots, the clinic will give away 200 turkeys and coats, until they run out. Last year, they ran out after about 45 minutes.
This year, a second flu shot clinic will be held at Mercy and Truth from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at 11644 W. 75th St., Shawnee, Kansas. Another 200 free flu shots, turkeys and coats will be given away at the second clinic, until they run out.
Geofrey Kigneyi, executive director of Mercy and Truth Clinic, said that since 2016, the clinic has seen significant growth. It saw more than 6,000 patients in 2016, and grew to 7,700 in 2018. Through July 2019, there have been more than 6,000, he said, with 10,000 patients projected by the end of the year.
Half of the patients are uninsured and the rest are on Medicaid or other insurance, he said.
There are an estimated 63,570 uninsured individuals in Wyandotte and Johnson counties.
Many times people look at Johnson County as wealthy, but the staff of the clinic almost daily see patients in Johnson County who struggle to pay the $40 clinic fee, he said.
The clinic does a lot of preventative care, he said, and vaccinations are a part of that.
Wyandotte County’s flu shot percentage last year was lower than Johnson County, which had 55 percent, he said.
The Warm Up Wyandotte program is sponsored by Mercy and Truth Medical Missions, Advent Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. Advent Health donated many of the coats that will be distributed, and most of them are gently used.
Also attending the announcement about the free flu shots were Unified Government Commissioners Melissa Bynum and Harold Johnson.