For several hours on Thursday, the Champaign County Community Center auditorium was once again turned into a finely-tuned machine built to administer local vaccinations to battle the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Champaign Health District staff and an army of cheerful volunteers shepherded eager patients through the orderly stations designed for vaccinations. Mass vaccination clinics are held periodically by the health district, but are not held every day. Local mass vaccination clinics are dependent on vaccine deliveries.
Thursday marked the first day when Ohioans as young as 50 could receive the vaccine.
In addition to the expanded age eligibility, those with type 2 diabetes and end-stage renal disease were added to the list of who could be vaccinated.
Although the state of Ohio has launched a new website enabling Ohioans to sign up at other providers near their homes, such as retail pharmacy locations, the state website early on Thursday was experiencing glitches for every retailer near the 43078 zip code.
An attempt to register at one retail pharmacy led to recurring dead ends on its website after several steps had been completed, while other small retail locations disappeared from the state list between Wednesday and Thursday morning.
But the local health district’s event on Thursday was humming along.
People who had registered in advance were waved into the auditorium and newly-eligible recipients without pre-registrations were simply asked to fill out a brief form to determine eligibility on the spot.
Although health district staffers said there were manageable lines in the morning, there were also some lulls in the line that allowed people to sign up for their first shot with very little waiting after 11:30 a.m. Followup vaccinations for those ready for their second shots also were administered within the clinic stations.
Patients who opt to use the clinics staged periodically by the health district should be prepared to sit and wait for 15 minutes after the vaccination as a precaution to ensure they don’t need any further assistance or attention from health staff.
Specific brands of vaccinations are offered based solely on the type of doses received by the health district for any given clinic. Several hundred doses were sent to Champaign County for Thursday’s clinic. Moderna was commonly administered to recipients on Thursday.
The vaccinations are free.
After a vaccination requiring two doses (Moderna and Pfizer), patients using the health district clinics are receiving an appointment card for their second vaccine after completing their first dose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose, but patients are not given an opportunity to choose because local health leaders can only distribute what they receive.
Many of the recipients at Thursday’s clinic appeared to be in the higher-risk categories for age or health concerns, but some younger patients who had just become eligible were among the others receiving the vaccines.
Anyone visiting the clinic must wear a well-fitted mask to enter the facility in order to curb the spread of the virus and protect others nearby.
The Champaign Health District posted the following statement to social media on Thursday afternoon: “We have just transitioned to using the state’s scheduling system for COVID-19 vaccinations. The link to register is https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov/ and this has been updated on our website. The state is working on finishing it up for us and this evening it should start to display available time slots for a clinic next week. Thank you for your patience!”
For more information on signing up for future CHD clinics, log on to http://www.champaignhd.com or for those with no website access, call 937-484-1605 during normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Champaign County remains at Level 3 Red on the state map indicating high level of community spread of the virus.
Ohio’s positive test rate on a rolling 7-day average was 3% as of Thursday.
Current hospitalizations remained low for the winter at 908 on Thursday.
The Ohio Department of Health on Thursday reported 18.46% have begun vaccination to date in Ohio. In Champaign County, the percentage is 15.82%, but this did not include Thursday’s local mass vaccination clinic numbers. The completed vaccination rate for Ohio is 10.62% and is 8.53% for Champaign County, not including Thursday’s clinic.
Champaign County schools reporting new cases this week were Mechanicsburg (2 students), Graham (2 staffers), Urbana (2 students and 1 staffer) and West Liberty-Salem (1 student).
In Champaign County, pandemic illness totals were not reported Thursday by the health district due to the staff commitment to the day-long vaccination clinic.
Reach Brenda Burns at [email protected]