Columbiana County Vaccinates Seniors as Doses Come in

LISBON, Ohio – Vehicles began lining up by 6 a.m. Friday at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds where the county health district’s drive-thru vaccination clinic, offering COVID-19 vaccine to those 80 and older. 

Of the 125 deaths from the coronavirus in the county, 90  have been people in that age range.

“This is a very, very important group for us to vaccinate to prevent the spread of virus and death,” said Columbiana County Health District commissioner Wes Vins. “It’s great that the population sees its importance as well.”

According to the Ohio Department of Health, just 3.72% of the county’s population – 3,795 people – have been vaccinated. Vins said all vaccins that come to Columbiana County are being administered.

“The only limiting factor we have in this community right now is vaccine. If they got us more vaccine, we would vaccinate more,” he said.

The health district expected to have available between 2,000 and 3,000 doses of the COVID vaccine, which has been shared among 13 providers, including the vaccination clinic at the fairgrounds, where 400 doses were available Friday.

“Our partners have been fantastic about getting the vaccine administered when it comes in. We have been successful in completing [vaccinating] our health care workers and group homes in the Phase1A group category,” the health commissioner says. “We’re pretty optimistic that, in the over 80 group, we will be able to complete it next week and then, come February 1, move into the next group of 75 and over and then start looking at schools and how we can start vaccinating our schools.”

Although the Ohio Department of Health’s vaccination plan calls for those 75 and older to receive vaccinations beginning Jan. 25, a press release from the Columbiana County Health District Friday noted that due to the limited supply of vaccine, those over 80 will be prioritized over the next week.

Residents 80 and older should be assured they will be able to receive the vaccine by contacting one of the 13 sites in the county where vaccinations are being administered, according to the health department, which anticipates completing that age group by Jan. 29. A list of vaccination sites in Columbiana County can be found HERE.

Originally scheduled to open at 9 a.m., a line of early arrivals prompted the clinic to admit the first group of a dozen cars at 8:30 a.m. By mid-morning, 206 vehicles had come through and 272 vaccines were administered, with some cars carrying as many as three people, said Hannah Sutton, public health emergency preparedness program coordinator.

“We have this all set up with safety in mind not just for our volunteers and staff but for residents as well,” she said.

Each of four teams inside the clinic included a vaccinator with medical training an assistant to make sure forms were completed properly. Each recipient was given a fact sheet and an appointment card for getting their second vaccine shot, which is necessary to make it fully effective.

Sutton estimated it took about 15 minutes to finish up each batch of 12 vehicles inside the clinic and then another 15 minutes outside for a waiting period where each recipient was monitored for any adverse side effects from the vaccine.

Two lines of six vehicles at a time were pulled into the drive-through clinic, where occupants were able to roll up their sleeves and quickly have a COVID-19 vaccination administered by medical professionals.

As of mid-day, Vins said there had been no serious adverse effects at the clinic and said he knew of no such effects reported at any clinic hosted by the Columbiana County Health District so far. Some soreness at the injection site and tiredness had been reported. 

The vaccine was being kept in medical grade coolers, although the clinic building was actually cold enough without the cooler according to officials. Each vial contains between 6 and 10 doses, depending upon the brand, either Pfizer or Moderna. Once a cap is broken on a vial, it is good for six hours.

The COVID vaccine requires a more delicate hand than other vaccines due to the colder temperatures it requires and the fact that any tampering or even jiggling when transporting can destroy the entire vial, officials said. 

Recipients were also asked prior to being vaccinated whether they currently have or have had COVID, whether they had any symptoms at the time and other pertinent questions because whether or not the vaccine could be administered hinged upon the answers.

Pictured at top: A line of traffic waits at the Columbiana County Fairgrounds to enter the county health district’s new vaccination clinic where COVID-19 vaccine was administered Friday to those 80 and older.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.