Columbiana County Rolls Out Drive-Thru Vaccination Clinic

LISBON, Ohio — Columbiana County is ready.

That was the message shared Thursday afternoon by officials as they unveiled a new drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Columbiana County fairgrounds and outlined plans to begin vaccinating the most vulnerable of the general public.

“Columbiana County is ready,” Wesley Vins, health commissioner of Columbiana County General Health District, said at the press conference. “We have a limited supply of vaccine. We have nearly 20 providers.”

Phase 1A of the vaccination roll-out has been completed in the county, which includes health care workers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and other health care workers, as well as residents of group homes and mental behavioral health facilities, Vins said. The county is ready to proceed with Phase 1B, which initially prioritizes members of the general public aged 80 years and older.

In addition to the new drive-thru clinic, another 13 locations will be offering vaccinations to what officials call this “most vulnerable population” beginning the week of Jan. 19.

The drive-thru clinic will be the only one of the facilities offering vaccinations without requiring an appointment, because there is concern that some individuals would not have internet access to make those reservations, Vins said. The clinic will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. beginning Jan. 22.

Residents can enter the fairgrounds at the main entrance on Lee Street, drive through the infield and remain in their cars throughout the vaccination process.

The clinic will accommodate two lanes of six cars.

Calling it a “great day for Columbiana County,” Laura Fauss, public information officer, explained that 12 vehicles will be able to enter the drive-thru clinic in two separate lines, where the doors will be closed until vaccinations are administered. After which, those vehicles will pull to a waiting area outside where vaccine recipients will be monitored for 15 minutes for any possible side effects.

Such monitoring is a common practice whenever a vaccine is administered, to watch for such adverse conditions as feeling unwell, flushing or respiratory distress, said Jamie Elenz, public health epidemiologist for the health district. Medication and an EMT will be available for any such reaction, she added.

Those being vaccinated will be required to show verification of age, Vins said. There is no out-of-pocket cost to the individual, but because some of the providers may find it necessary to bill insurance companies for administrative costs, recipients may be asked for identification, insurance information or Medicare B card.

At the drive-thru clinic, four teams will be located in individual trailers to administer the vaccine, Vins explained. Team members will be separated so that, in case a team member tests positive for COVID-19 during operations, only that team and not all members will be lost in the process.

Although there is a limited amount of vaccines, Vins said he anticipates between 2,000 and 3,000 doses will be available among all providers in the county for this second phase.

Columbiana County Health Commissioner Wesley Vins

“We’re hopeful we can vaccinate all the 80-year-olds who want it in two weeks, but it depends on the availability of the vaccine,” Vins said.

After the first week, the age range will extend by five years, so those who are 75 years or older can be vaccinated. The age range extends by five years every week thereafter.

The county’s COVID experience began with its first case March 20, with 6,931 positive cases identified since, Vins reported.

“We’ve lost loved ones. We’ve lost family and friends, and we’ve all endured the struggles of economics and emotions and some isolation,” Vins said. “These have been tough times for some families.”

He recognized those health care workers, EMTs and others who have worked diligently these past 10 months, many without a break, and also thanked county teachers and school nurses who have worked with the health department to keep schools operating.

Vins said county businesses have been “very understanding” of the community, their employees and their customers and have worked diligently to maintain compliance with the health department, adding, “We appreciate their partnership.” He also recognized the hard decisions made by county families.

“They’ve continued to make the right decisions and do the right things for their communities. Columbiana County has become a stronger community,” Vins said. “It’s amazing to see what a small community can do when they work together. This building is an example of that. It’s a quick efficient use of resources we didn’t have previously in partnership with all of the community. It will be very effective for us to be able to administer vaccine to our community.”

“This building is an excellent example of what community partners can do when they put their resources together,” agreed County Commissioner Tim Weigle. “The health department had a need for a drive-thru clinic, the fair board had the property and they were more than willing, and the commissioners had the resources and finances.”

Construction on the building was begun the second week in December, and Weigle said a combination of CARES funding and general fund revenue approved by commissioners was used to pay the $85,000 cost.

Vins said that, once the pandemic is over, the building “is not going to be mothballed” but will be utilized to administer flu vaccines.

The complete list of clinics throughout the county where Phase 1B vaccinations will be given is available on the health district’s website: Columbiana-Health.org or by calling 211. The county health district can also be reached at 330 424 0272.

Pictured at top: Representatives of the Columbiana County General Health District and elected officials gathered Thursday for the introduction of the county’s new drive-thru vaccination clinic.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.