GALION — The Galion City Health Department has received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine.
Health Commissioner Trish Factor said the shipment of the vaccine produced by Moderna arrived Monday at the agency. Vaccinations are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, she said, with “first responders, EMS crews, those who are providing some critical healthcare” slated to be innoculated.
“The fact that we were actually one of the first groups to receive it and prepared to distribute and start the process, that’s kind of a big thing,” Factor said. “But this is definitely not the end-all. It doesn’t mean we’re done with social distancing, done with masking, anything like that. We have very limited quantities (of the vaccine). We’re going to get little (shipments) here and there and we’re going to try to build upon that, which is why the roll-out is done in phases.”
Factor said people who are in what is termed the Phase 1A group will be the first to receive the vaccine.
“First responders, healthcare workers who are working with COVID-19 patients, healthcare workers who are potentially exposed in their line of work, longterm care residents are included in that Phase 1A,” Factor said. “We’re really focusing in on those groups first while we have these limited quantities. As there’s more quantities of vaccine being rolled out, then we’ll start in on additional phases. They’re already starting to look at Phase 1B and Phase 1C groups and we’re working with different entities to start compiling their lists of who in their groups are going to want the vaccine if they have the option.
“We (the health department) are not requiring the vaccination of any entity. That’s something the individual agencies are going to have to determine, whatever their policies are going to be on that.”
Factor said all of the longterm care facilties in Galion are registered with the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care (LTC) Program to receive the vaccine for their residents and staff members. In Ohio, Absolute Pharmacy, CVS, PharmScript, and Walgreens are administering the vaccines in that program.
“The pharmacies are scheduling vaccine clinic dates with (the longterm care facilities),” she said. “We are very happy that they all are participating in that program. If there are urgent needs where we need to get someone (vaccinated), we’ll work with them on that.”
The Ohio Department of Health has provided a listing of “prioritized high-risk healthcare workers” who will receive the vaccine in Phase 1A. They include the following groups:
• Home health/hospice workers not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems.
• Emergency Medical Services responders.
• Primary care practitioners, including family medicine and general medicine providers.
• Freestanding EDs, urgent care, pharmacies, and dialysis centers not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems.
• OB-GYN practitioners not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems.
• Federally Qualified Health Center providers.
• Dental providers.
• Surgeons not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems.
• Mobile unit practitioners.
• Healthcare providers, including public health employees, at risk for exposure to and/or transmission of SARS-CoV-2, such as vaccinators.
Factor said Avita Health System is supposed to receive its own shipment of vaccine from the state.
Vaccine shipments are expected on a weekly basis, but that is not guaranteed, Factor noted.
“The amount we’ll receive weekly may vary,” Factor said. “We’re going to maintain lists. We’re going to verify how many (doses) we’re getting and how many people we have on the lists for the next round. So, we’ll keep going through that process and getting (the vaccine) pushed out and also making sure we’re prepared for the second round.”
According to current statistics, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the Galion City Health Department’s jurisdictional area continues to climb. Factor said there were 60 cumulative cases as of Sept. 30. The cumulative figure now stands at 660, as of Dec. 22. There are 141 active cases. She said 490 people have recovered from the virus.
Factor said there have been 32 fatalities, 26 of which were COVID-related. Four of those cases involved people who died with COVID-19, but whose deaths were not attributed to the virus. Two of the deaths are still under investigation.
A total of 57 people have been hospitalized since the pandemic began. Five people are currently hospitalized.
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