(Posted Jan. 14, 2021)
In conjunction with Ohio’s statewide efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to Ohioans in Phase 1B, Madison County Public Health (MCPH), the Madison County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), and other community partners are prepared to lead the vaccination efforts in Madison County.
Health Commissioner Chris Cook said Madison County is prepared to receive and give vaccine but MCPH will not get enough to take care of everyone at the same time.
“Vaccine supply will not meet demand right now. We know there are people who are eligible and want vaccine. It’s coming, but it will be over the period of weeks and months,” Cook said.
There are only two approved vaccines right now. As supply increases and other manufacturers are approved, COVID-19 vaccine will be available to more Ohioans and at more locations. Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Phase 1B will include Ohioans age 65 and older, those living with severe congenital or developmental disorders, and K-12 school employees.
Phase 1B will begin the week of Jan. 18 and include a tiered approach. During the week of Jan. 18, limited supplies of vaccine will be administered to those who are age 80 and older. During the week of Jan. 25, people who are age 75 and older, plus those with severe congenital or developmental disorders, will become eligible. During the week of Feb. 1, the group of people eligible to get vaccine will be expanded to age 70 and older and school staff. Finally, during the week of Feb. 8 people who are age 65 and older will become eligible.
Cook stressed that over the coming weeks the vaccine supply Madison County is expected to receive is in the hundreds, not thousands.
“There are 6,500 people in Madison County who are age 65 and older, plus many more with severe congenital or developmental disorders,” Cook said. “Getting vaccine to people is our top priority. This will take time and patience because of the limited doses available.”
Depending on supply, vaccination of all Phase 1B will likely take months to complete. While moving through Phase 1B, MCPH will simultaneously administer second doses to those vaccinated in Phase 1A.
Residents can visit covidvaccine.madisonph.org to pre-register for vaccine and to watch for upcoming clinics. Registration forms also will be available at clinics and at the MCPH office at 306 Lafayette St. in London. People should only come to a clinic when they become eligible for vaccine according to the governor’s “phased” approach. Because vaccine is provided to counties based on the number of people who are currently eligible for vaccine, residents should get vaccine in their “home” county.
Cook said that clinics will be scheduled as soon as vaccine arrives in the county.
“Our goal is to administer whatever we receive during that same week. Since vaccine remains scarce right now, delivery amounts and dates will we unpredictable,” he said.
If vaccine is available each week, drive-through clinics will be held every Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 3 p.m. at OSU’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center (best known for the Farm Science Review). Residents should check the MCPH website before planning to attend a clinic.
“Whether or not we hold a clinic on a Tuesday or Thursday depends directly on vaccine deliveries and supply. This could change each week, and we will have times when we run out during a clinic,” Cook noted.
Additional locations in Madison County will begin to administer vaccine over the coming weeks. A statewide vaccine provider search will soon be available at coronavirus.ohio.gov/vaccine. Residents can also call (740) 852-3065, ext. 1546, to listen to vaccine updates.
While vaccine and clinics will be somewhat unpredictable for now, Cook said his team is excited about the vaccine.
“We know it’s going to be limited for a while, but vaccines will save lives and help us turn the tide during this pandemic.”
Besides vaccine itself, medical personnel to administer vaccine are in short supply. Healthcare workers continue to be overly taxed by the number of COVID-19 patients they are caring for, which leaves only a few people available to administer vaccine. Cook explained that people who are licensed and trained to administer vaccine can volunteer to help at clinics.
“We are always looking for volunteers to be part of our Medical Reserve Corps,” he said.
Volunteers who are interested in helping can contact MCPH at (740) 852-3065 or send an email to MRC@madisonpublichealth.org.