New data suggests COVID-19 vaccines could be more effective than thought; county sees 86 new cases

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health

Jan. 13 COVID-19 update from the health department

Doctors from LMH Health and the University of Kansas Health System said Wednesday that they expect the COVID-19 vaccines to last six months to a year — or longer.

On Sunday, the Journal-World reported that local infectious disease doctor Jennifer Schrimsher said the vaccines should work for at least three months. This week, Schrimsher noted that she expects the vaccine protection to last “well beyond that.” Schrimsher said she expects the Moderna vaccine to be effective anywhere from six months to a year.

“Moderna recently released additional data on antibody response to their vaccine,” Schrimsher wrote in an email to the Journal-World. “While this data reported stops 90 days after the second dose, the antibody levels in those vaccinated are (1) higher than those who have recovered from active infection and (2) appear to persist well past 90 days.”

On Tuesday, CNN reported that Moderna’s chief medical officer told the JP Morgan 39th Annual Healthcare Conference that the company believes its vaccine should protect people against COVID-19 for at least a year.

Kathy Colson, a retired public health nurse who began working for the health department during the pandemic, said that while it is great to receive more positive information about the new vaccines, “We will wait for confirmation from FDA, CDC and KDHE on the research that supports this new information.”

According to an infectious disease physician at the University of Kansas Health System, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected to have a similar length of effectiveness.

“They are very similar in efficacy and safety profile and we would expect them to be in durability as well,” said Dana Hawkinson, who is also medical director of infection prevention and control.

Hawkinson said that while it is not yet assured exactly how long the COVID-19 vaccines will work, “most of the clinical and scientific community expects immunity from vaccination will be durable lasting six months to a year or more.”

In other vaccine news, Unified Command has set up two alert systems for community members to receive notifications about Douglas County vaccine information. The notifications will alert people of transitions to new vaccination phases, as well as provide information about how people who are eligible in that phase can sign up for a vaccine.

George Diepenbrock, spokesperson for Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, specified that Unified Command does not yet have a way for people to sign up for vaccines in Phase 2 or beyond, but that the alerts would be another way to disseminate that information to citizens once it’s ready.

People can sign up for text or email alerts through Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health via People can also receive the alerts though Douglas County Emergency Management via The alerts through emergency management can be sent via text, email or phone calls.

The two alert systems will include the same information, Diepenbrock said, so people will only need to sign up for one alert.

Douglas County COVID-19 update

Douglas County reported 7,373 cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, an increase of 86 cases since Tuesday.

In Douglas County, 6,197 out of the 7,373 cases are inactive or beyond the infectious period, according to Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, meaning 1,176 cases are active.

The county has averaged about 64 new cases per day over the last 14 days, according to a 14-day moving average graph updated weekdays by the health department. The current average of 64.14 new cases per day is down from a recent high of 78 cases per day in mid-November and up from a recent low of 43 cases per day in December.

Douglas County has a 14-day COVID-19 incidence rate of 746.52 per 100,000 people.

Fifteen patients at Lawrence’s hospital had COVID-19 on Wednesday, the same number as Tuesday. To date, 36 Douglas County residents have died of COVID-19.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s online map noted that 52,244 Douglas County residents had been tested for the disease so far. The county’s testing rate per 1,000 people was 427.3.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.