Following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement Thursday about Phase 1B rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Henry County Health Department has announced it is taking appointments for both Phase 1A and individuals 80 years and older as part of Phase 1B.
According to the Henry County Health Department, vaccinations for Phase 1B will begin as follows:
•The week of Jan. 18 — those ages 80 and older.
•The week of Jan. 25 — those ages 75 and older and those with severe medical disorders. Those include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, congenital heart disease, type 1 diabetes, inherited metabolic disorders, severe neurological disorders including epilepsy, severe genetic disorders including Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Prader Willi Syndrome and Turner Syndrome, severe lung disease including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma, sickle cell anemia, and alpha and beta thalassemia.
•The week of Feb. 1 — those ages 70 and older and school employees.
•The week of Feb. 8 — those ages 65 and older.
“We will start with our most vulnerable, where we’ve seen the most tragedy, the people in this state who have the most risk of death if they have COVID,” DeWine said, referring to those who are 80 years and older. “We’ll have to see how the distribution goes, but our plan is, depending on how much vaccine is coming in to the State of Ohio ... each week we will add five years.
DeWine said the entire Phase 1B population is estimated at 2.2 million people in the state. He added those 80 years and older alone are estimated to be 425,000-450,000 people, and Ohio is anticipating to receive about 100,000 doses per week over the next several weeks.
“Obviously not everyone who’s 80 is going to be able to get it that week,” DeWine said.
For example, Henry County Health Commissioner Joy Ermie said there are approximately 4,900 people 65 years and older currently living in Henry County. Within that number, approximately 1,400 are 80 years and older. For the past three weeks, the department has received 100 doses of the vaccine each week as it works to vaccinate those in Phase 1A.
“We know it’s going to take a few months to get through Phase 1B based on the quantity of (vaccine) that we have been getting,” Ermie said. “But we are prepared to increase our vaccine clinics as more product becomes available to us.
“As times goes on, more of our partners and health care partners should be getting vaccine, so we will not have to be doing all of this by ourselves,” she continued.
At this time, the Henry County Health Department is still scheduling appointments for people in Phase 1A and has now opened appointments to individuals who are 80 years and older. Appointments are required to receive the vaccine because of limited quantities and to maintain social distancing. To schedule an appointment, call the health department at 419-599-5545.
Anyone who is eligible for a vaccine but has mobility issues should still contact the health department so accommodations can be made.
“We understand that for some people in Phase 1B it will be difficult for them to come out to the health department, and we’re still working on alternatives for those who have mobility issues,” Ermie said. “That should not deter them from calling.”
A COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration Portal is set up on the health department’s website (www.henrycohd.org/covid) so individuals can pre-register their information and staff from the health department will then contact that individual to set up an appointment.
“By signing up on the pre-registration portal, you do not have an appointment,” Ermie explained.
Appointments will gradually be opened to others within Phase 1B.
Since two doses are required for the vaccine, those in Phase 1A in the county will be eligible to start receiving their second doses starting Jan. 21.
Locally, Ermie said the health department has been working with partners such as Henry County Hospital for months on how they could assist in vaccination efforts in Phase 1B.
“As of right now, a lot of that is dependent on the amount of vaccine that we receive in the county,” Ermie said, adding the county will find out on Tuesday how much vaccine it will receive the week of Jan. 18. “We have a good plan as to when more (vaccine) becomes available, how we’re all going to work together and get through these phases.”
When the time comes for adults working in schools, Ermie said those individuals will not call the health department for appointments as local superintendents are currently gathering that information.
DeWine also announced local Emergency Management Agencies (EMA) will hold press conferences next week on how vaccinations will be rolled out in Phase 1B and where they will be available. The state will also be working next week to include information on who the providers are in each county and who is eligible for the vaccine on its website at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Henry County EMA Director Tracy Busch said the county’s press conference will be held Thursday at a newly renovated space at the Oakwood Office Complex that will host vaccine clinics. The county received the conditional use permit for the building Friday, so setup can now begin.
Ermie said the health department is hoping to host its first clinic in that new space, which is located next to the Henry County Health Department, on Thursday, Jan. 21.
Ermie explained the health department is requiring appointments to ensure there is enough space between appointments due to social distancing, as well as the 15-30 minute observation period after the vaccine is administered to ensure there’s not an allergic reaction. In addition, it will also ensure there is enough vaccine available.
“COVID-19 is still circulating in our county,” Ermie said. “The last thing we want is for our residents to be waiting outside in the cold or being within six feet of other people with the chance of contracting COVID-19 from others.
“Having an appointment is safest for us and for them,” she added.
With CARES Act funding, the health department has purchased a truck and trailer that can be utilized for mobile vaccine clinics, and Ermie said that will be utilized in future phases.
“In the future, we do plan doing on mobile clinics where we go out, but at this point, we are looking at quantity,” she said, adding the department estimates it could vaccinate approximately 200 people a day through the clinics at the Oakwood Office Complex. “We know that we can, with that great open space next door, we can be very, very efficient and get a lot of people through.”