The first mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic was held Thursday in a newly renovated space to allow for social distancing.

Henry County Health Commissioner Joy Ermie said 90 individuals were scheduled the first day to ensure everything was going smoothly since it was the first time the new space was utilized.

“It’s moving great,” she said. “I think we will find that we will be able to increase the number (per day). We wanted to see how it went first.”

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers directed individuals through the parking lot at the Oakwood Office Plaza in Napoleon, providing buzzer-type devices similar to what’s used as a restaurant. Individuals waited in their vehicles until it was their turn, at which point they entered the newly renovated area, which is located in the former East of Chicago restaurant located next to the health department.

“We’re so grateful for our MRC volunteers,” Ermie added.

Individuals went to registration booths, then on to one of four nurses stations to receive the vaccines. Afterward a separate area was set up for individuals to wait for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to make sure they did not have an adverse reaction.

The health department administered 280 doses of the vaccine this week and is planning to give 430 doses next week.

“After next week, it will all depend on how much vaccine we get,” Ermie said, adding the department currently has enough vaccine to cover the 430 appointments next week, but is then only scheduled to get 100 doses next week, which would be used for the first week of February. “The Ohio Department of Health has occasionally increased that, so we’re hoping that they will do that again.

“However, we are going to just take it week by week, and we know that we are at the mercy of how much vaccine that we get,” she added.

Ermie noted the limited number of vaccine doses is what’s driving the pace of the vaccine administration.

“It’s not the workforce that’s holding us back, it’s not the beautiful clinic that’s holding us back, it’s not the people who want the vaccine that’s holding us back, it’s lack of vaccine,” she said.

Moving forward, Ermie added they are monitoring winter weather that could possibly reach the area next week, so anyone who has an appointment next week should watch for news about whether that could impact the scheduled vaccine clinics.

“At this point, we’re not foreseeing that,” she said. “But if the weather influences our clinics next week, we will be sure to have something on our website, on our phone message, we’ll get it out to the community.”

Ermie added she is touring the school districts in the county this week and next week and has been impressed with what she’s seeing.

“The students and the teachers are complying very well, and it’s so nice to see kids in school,” she said. “Thanks to the students and the parents and the staff and the teachers for everything that they’ve done because we’re doing a great job keeping our kids in school.”

Overall, Ermie said the vaccine is the best way to move forward out of the pandemic. The clinics this week are, by appointment only, for individuals who are 80 years and older, the first tier in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination plan.

“To see them come out in droves to get this vaccine, I think it’s a good message for the rest of us,” Ermie said. “They miss life as it was and want to get life back to normal.”

E-mail comments to jenl@northwestsignal.net.

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