(Posted May 26, 2021)
After more than four months of drive-through vaccine clinics in the snow, rain, wind and heat, Madison County Public Health (MCPH) will suspend vaccination operations at The Ohio State University’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center following their clinic on May 27.
“We are no longer seeing the volume of people wanting vaccine to justify the cost and resources necessary to run the clinic,” said Health Commissioner Chris Cook. “We know that we can administer 250 to 300 doses in our office Wednesday through Friday. Our last two weeks at Molly Caren have been around 200, and that was my threshold for demand to pull back to our office.”
The Molly Caren site will remain an option into the future for all types of vaccines, as long as the site is available to the health department, Cook said, adding that The Ohio State University has been “an incredibly gracious host.”
Since January, MCPH staff and volunteers have administered nearly 20,000 COVID-19 vaccines at 34 drive-through clinics at Molly Caren. The staff and hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly to make this happen, Cook said.
“What we accomplished over the last four months has been unprecedented, to say the least. I am beyond proud of and thankful for my staff, our selfless volunteers, the Molly Caren staff, and the response from our residents,” he said.
MCPH has been by far the largest vaccinator in the county since vaccine became available around the first of the year. Several local pharmacies have been administering vaccine in limited quantities, but no other healthcare facilities in the county have provided vaccine to the public.
Cook said his decision to provide a drive-through, no-appointment clinic was the right one to make.
“Putting large numbers of people indoors to administer vaccine was very risky. We knew many people would be hesitant to go indoors for traditional vaccine clinics,” he explained.
Cook added that many people would not have been able to get vaccinated any other way.
“We have people with physical limitations, children with special needs, and parents with a carload of young kids. We served people well,” he said.
MCPH received more than 1,700 customer satisfaction survey results over the last few months. Cook reported that patients rated the health department 4.8 or higher out of five on every satisfaction measure.
At the height of demand for vaccine, MCPH vaccinated 350 people per hour through the drive-through, including a record 1,100 people during a three-hour Saturday clinic. Even at the busiest, clinic wait times averaged one hour. Word spread to surrounding areas that Madison County’s clinic was extremely efficient. More than half of the people vaccinated at three clinics in March were not Madison County residents.
Currently, 39 percent of Madison County residents have been vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This number lags behind the state average of 45 percent.
As of May 26, Madison County is one of 17 counties in the state that is still red on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished but we aren’t done,” Cook said. “We still have a lot of people to vaccinate if we want to keep our county safe.”
MCPH, along with several local pharmacies, will continue to administer COVID-19 vaccine as long as there is demand. MCPH will offer vaccine appointments at their office in London three days per week and will have evening hours through the month of June. They can also vaccinate the homebound and hold special clinics for groups upon request. All vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are readily available.
While Cook wants everyone to get vaccinated, he does highlight one specific group.
“One out of every four new cases of COVID-19 in Madison is in the 0-19 age group right now. We can vaccinate everyone down to age 12. I hope parents bring their kids in to get vaccinated this summer,” he said.
Residents can get a free COVID-19 vaccine at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center on May 27 between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. or book an appointment next week for an office-based clinic. Visit covidvaccine.madisonph.org to register and for additional details.
Madison County Public Health is located at 306 Lafayette St., Suite B, London, and can be reached at (740) 852-5418.