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Half of Shawnee County adults partially vaccinated; 50% more to go

Erin Locke was unanimously voted into the position of Shawnee County Health Officer.
Erin Locke was unanimously voted into the position of Shawnee County Health Officer.(SCHD)
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 5:48 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Half of Shawnee County’s adult population is now partly vaccinated against COVID-19 -- health officials say that’s cause to celebrate. Dr. Locke told 13 News that she’s thrilled half of Shawnee County adults have already received one dose of the vaccine.

However, she points out that also means 50% have not. She says we also still need to keep Shawnee County kids safe; unless and until the vaccine is approved for them, too. Dr. Locke says she too is tired of the precautions she recommends to residents -- and follows herself. She had this advice for those who are ready to rip off the masks and return to normal.

“There are a few things people can do to be able to remove their masks,” Dr. Locke told us. “The first is to be vaccinated. If you’re vaccinated and you’re around other people who are vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask and so for those people who are tired, I would recommend go get your vaccination.”

If it was not for state lawmakers and county commissioners revoking masks. Doctor Locke says she would have left her order in place.

She recommends Shawnee County schools continue to keep kids masked--saying because of that and other precautions they’ve taken, students aren’t getting sick at school. She says it’s happening at other activities like socializing or playing sports. Locke admits that she too is tired of the very precautions she’s encouraging Shawnee County residents to take. However, according to her, it’s important to disrupt the spread of disease in Shawnee County. The UK and California variants are of particular concern.

“We now have a number of known cases of the variant here in Shawnee County in fact we have the highest known number of any county in the state and these variants spread much more easily and because of that we really need to be keeping our masks in place.”

Dr. Locke says the variants have evolved, spreading more easily and quickly. According to her, the UK variant is about 50% more effective in its spread, while the California variant is about 20%.

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