Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said Friday in his latest health department Facebook page update that he wanted to celebrate an important milestone because Highland County had officially administered more vaccines than its total number of COVID-19 cases to date.
“This is a very exciting announcement!” Warner wrote. “Thank you to our doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other vaccinators!”
Case counts are currently at 340.59 per 100,000 residents, Warner said.
“Everything is trending down both in Highland County, Ohio and in general across the nation. Hospitalization rates are really looking good. Nothing but good news to report across the trends that we monitor daily at the health department.”
The health commissioner said death numbers continue to get a thorough review from the Highland County Health Department nursing team. Ohio is currently reporting 47 deaths for Highland County, and Warner said that as those records are reviewed more could be found. In particular, he said, it appears that some local nursing home deaths have not yet been added to Highland County statistics.
He said there are a lot of unanswered questions still, and wanted to let local residents know that the health department continues to research the issue.
“I received an update today from our scheduling service, and it looks like our vaccine wait list increased dramatically once we started to hit the 65 and older group,” Warner said. “We had managed to reduce our numbers down into the double digits at one point. Right now we have approximately 875 people who have called central scheduling or registered online for their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and as far as we know are still waiting for vaccine. Next week we will have a large amount of vaccine being administered, so we will be able to handle some of this wait list. Because we have such a large waitlist currently, we will not be opening new online registration opportunities this week.”
In some not as positive news, he said the health department did not end up getting all its allotted vaccine supply last week, but is hopeful shipping services will recover sufficiently for planned vaccine clinics on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Friday, school employees are being vaccinated.
“All told the health department will be giving somewhere around 1,500 vaccines (this week). Combine this with other providers next week, and we will be increasing our vaccine counts for Highland County by over 2,000 vaccines,” Warner said. “Even with our frustrating vaccine delays (last) week, we are at about 80% vaccine usage as a county.”
A new federal vaccine program has started delivery of vaccines to Rite Aid and Kroger pharmacies in Ohio, Warner reported. He said Hillsboro Rite Aid is not currently available for vaccines, according to its website, but Kroger had updated its scheduling system and he found it easier to search for vaccine providers in other parts of the region.
”If you are looking for vaccine and are able to travel, I encourage you to check out their website again,” Warner said. “We are in the very final planning stages this week of a local rapid COVID-19 antigen test project. This is going to be a great resource for our community. Be watching our website for information on the public access portion of this testing program.”
He said Pfizer submitted documentation last week to the FDA that asks for approval for traditional vaccine freezer storage temperatures for its COVID-19 vaccine. That approval would allow two-week standard freezer storage for the Pfizer vaccine.
Warner noted that the health department will close at noon Friday, Feb. 26 so all its staff can help with school staff vaccine clinics.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.