The Highland County Health Department said it will not be opening more clinic spots for those in the 65 and older group until the county finishes contacting everyone on the wait list in the 70 and older group, according to the latest Facebook post by Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner on Friday.
The postponement is because the county was only given 100 Moderna vaccines this week, which is not enough to cover its current wait list and lower than what the county had received in the past, Warner said.
“Often people sign up for multiple wait lists and are able to get vaccines from other providers,” Warner said. “This has become a significant issue with other counties in SW Ohio, with some jurisdictions reporting that only 30% of their calls to wait lists result in an appointment. This is the main reason that we have tried not to create very large wait lists… There are a lot of people over 65 who want to sign up for a vaccine. It just doesn’t feel right to open registration this week for new patients until we have fairly handled our wait list.”
The health department also said it is changing its vaccination process to a single-day large scale vaccine clinic. Warner said there will be more details on the change in the future.
He also said the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is getting close to final review for FDA emergency authorization. Warner highlighted that it looks to be 72 percent effective with a single dose and designed to only use one dose. Currently, the U.S. has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine and the county could see some of it as early as the first week of March.
Warner said that 2,557 residents in Highland County have received the first doses of the vaccine, which is about 6 percent of the population.
Gov. Mike DeWine also released another update late last week that said Ohio is in the top five states on delivering COVID-19 vaccine doses to residents in long-term care facilities.
DeWine asaid that “Pfizer has notified Ohio that they believe they will increase their shipment of vaccine by 40 percent around mid-to-late February. Shipments could additionally increase even more by the end of March.”
COVID-19 cases in Highland County have continued to fall with the per capita case rate at 539.84 per 100,000 as of Friday, according to the health department. Warner said the trends are steady and continue to slightly decrease.
However, deaths have increased over the past week and the county is still waiting for some formal reports pertaining to those deaths. The county also passed 3,000 total cases last week, Warner said.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) updated its Public Health Advisory System on Feb. 2. It still considers Highland County to be in a Level 3 Public Emergency, which means there is very high exposure and spread and people should limit their activities as much as possible. There are seven indicators that show “risk level for each county and a corresponding color code to represent that risk level.”
Highland County met one indicator — cases per capita. The ODH has that number at 567.64 per 100,000, but new numbers from Warner and the Highland County Health Department have lowered that. The seven-day outpatient visits averagerose to 2.86, which is the number of people that go to a health care provider with Covid-like symptoms and then receive a Covid confirmation or suspected diagnosis. That indicator is still under the threshold.
All other indicators have decreased, including emergency department visits where the patient has Covid-like symptoms or a diagnosis, hospital admissions because of COVID and new cases increases.
The ODH also updated its COVID-19 Dashboard with more numbers pertaining to COVID-19 in Highland County. According to the website, Highland County is at 3,082 cases total. It had zero cases on Feb. 7 and six cases on Feb. 6, pertaining to their illness onset date. The county has had 159 hospitalizations, but hasn’t had one since Feb. 1. Highland County has also had 22 total deaths due to COVID-19, its last coming on Jan. 23. It is presumed that 2,672 have recovered from the virus, according to the website.
Because of COVID-19 grant money, the Highland County Health Department was able to get a new Care-A-Van. The van is the county’s “mobile health clinic that the nurses use to travel the county giving flu shots, childhood immunizations, providing health education, many other services.”
It makes trips to the Rocky Fork Lake and Greenfield areas. Warner said it will also be an integral part of helping increase vaccine access in the area.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2522.