‘Now I realize this is real:’ Independence woman changes stance on COVID vaccine

KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) – The Unified Government Public Health Department had tents set up just past the box office at Children’s Mercy Park on Wednesday night, offering free COVID vaccinations for those watching Sporting KC take on the San Jose Quakes.

With the offer of convenience, a free rally scarf and an entry into a drawing for a game-worn jersey at the end of the night, they had 32 takers.

But for one woman who offered up her arm, it had nothing to do with a prize. It was much more personal than that.

Brenda Vargas’s husband got vaccinated right away, but she took a hard pass.

“Because I didn’t trust the government,” she explained candidly.

Her decision to pop into the mobile vaccination tent before the match came from a call she got on Monday telling her one of her aunts was in the hospital.

“And they only gave her 48 hours of living because of the COVID. She got COVID,” Vargas said.

It was a reality check. Earlier in the day, before getting her shot, she took her oldest son who is 12 years old to get vaccinated. She attended the game with a mask on, nervous now about what’s to come.

“I’m scared for my family, my kids, my husband and everyone that is around me.”

The health department’s organizer of Wednesday’s event has done similar events at the Kansas Speedway, at Legends Field with the Monarchs and two previous prize events at Children’s Mercy Park with Sporting. He said not all incentives are equally successful. Instant prizes seem to have more appeal than drawings, but he said the nightly drawings for a game-worn jersey have been successful.

“When halftime hits and they make that announcement, we see a pretty significant rush of people coming out here to get in that drawing,” said Brian Koelliker, the health department’s mobile vaccine supervisor.

Every little persuasion counts, but Vargas worries there are plenty of people who are in the same position she was just two days ago.

“They need to have someone close to them to get close, to die or have the sickness for them to realize that this is real,” Vargas said.

Her aunt is still in the hospital. It’s been 36 hours. It doesn’t look good. She’s praying for her aunt and her entire family, but she’s also taking action.

The health department will be back out at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, July 31 with the same prizes and the same low price of free.