Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said in a Facebook post that his staff is pushing hard to finish as many of the Phase 1A COVID-19 vaccination groups this week as his staff is able.
He said his office is targeting health care workers, emergency medical services staff and congregate settings, and encouraged agencies within those groups to complete the registration form at the health department’s website at highlandcountyhealth.org to get vaccinated.
“Our team has been doing a fantastic job at getting the vaccine out efficiently. Of the initial 300 doses that we have received so far (100 per week), our office will have administered every dose of vaccine by Wednesday,” Warner wrote. “We have a lot of capacity for providing vaccinations, what we are lacking right now is the vaccine itself!”
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported 7,892 new cases of coronavirus Monday, which was nearly 500 more than the 21-day rolling average, bringing the state’s cumulative total since March to 784,957, with 639,080 presumed to have recovered.
Monday’s figures also showed that three of the four leading indicators — deaths, hospitalizations and those admitted to the ICU — either remained steady or declined.
ODH data showed that while 75 new deaths were reported Monday, that number remained the same as the 21-day rolling average, while those admitted to the hospital declined by nearly 100 and ICU admissions dropped by three when compared to the average.
The death toll in the Buckeye State from COVID-19 now stands at 9,702, according to the ODH.
The state reported that nearly 300,000 people have at least been vaccinated with the first injection of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Jan. 9, with that number representing a little over 2.5 percent of the state’s population.
The next phase in Ohio’s vaccination program, Phase 1B, is being scheduled earlier than Warner expected, and he said that while he would love to see everyone vaccinated, supplies are limited to the extent that his staff can’t reach much of the community yet.
“We all need to understand, our governor included, that we can’t vaccinate without vaccines. This process is going to take months, not weeks,” he said. “We need to have realistic expectations for how quickly we will be able to vaccinate when we only have 100 doses a week coming in. We are going to start our Phase 1B group along with the governor’s plan, but it is going to take a very long time to reach all of them that are interested.”
The second phase of the vaccination program is for Ohioans 65 and older, and starting next week, vaccines are being set aside for those 80 years of age and older.
“We do not know how many vaccines that the state will allocate to Highland County for the 80-plus group during the next week,” Warner wrote Monday on Facebook. “Until we have this number, we can’t release any information on a registration process. We will release the registration process later this week once the state provides us some additional information.”
He said that his office hasn’t been told the amount of vaccine it will be allocated from the state, but was sure that there wouldn’t be enough available for Highland County’s entire 80 and older population.
“This is frustrating for all of us, but out of our control,” Warner wrote. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and we look forward to vaccinating as many of you as we can with the limited supply we are provided.”
Since the Phase 1B clinics will require preregistration, Warner advised to not call the health department to preregister, but to follow local news media or the health department’s website or Facebook page, adding that his office was taking this approach to avoid having more people waiting in line than available vaccine.
Ohio’s Phase 1B vaccination plan will begin next week using the following schedule:
• The week of Jan. 19: Ohioans 80 years of age and older.
• The week of Jan. 25: Ohioans 75 years of age and older, and those individuals that have severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders.
• The week of Feb. 1: Ohioans 70 years of age and older, in addition to staff and teachers of K-12 schools that wish to remain or return to in-person or hybrid models.
• The week of Feb. 8: Ohioans 65 years of age and older.
Warner’s Monday Facebook update of current Highland County statistics wasn’t available at press time.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.