Mahoning County to Begin New Phase of Vaccinations Next Week

Updated 5:30 p.m. Jan. 14 | Call center line update
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Immediately after announcing a call center line for registering for Phase 1B of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, Mahoning County Public Health says the line has crashed due to high call volume.

In a statement released late Thursday afternoon, the agency said it is currently working with the Mahoning County EMA to establish a new line and expects the new number will be available by 9 a.m. Jan. 15. Information on the new pre-registration phone number will be released when available.

Residents will still be able to pre-register on the agency’s website at MahoningHealth.org. There are no walk-in pre-registrations or walk-in appointments.

The next phase of the coronavirus vaccination program will begin in Mahoning County next week with the arrival of 3,075 doses.

The doses will be split between Mahoning County Public Health (400 doses), Youngstown City Health District (500 doses), Mercy Health – North Lima Medical Center (500 doses), Mercy Health – Youngstown Primary Care (975 doses) and Southwoods Health (200), along with 100 doses each for Giant Eagle pharmacies located at 4878 Boardman-Canfield Road, 1201 Doral Drive, 5220 Mahoning Ave., 3130 Center Road and 525 E. Main St.

Those receiving the vaccine can choose whichever site is best for them. 

In Phase 1B, the only people able to get the vaccine are Ohioans 65 and older – initially prioritizing those 80 years of age and older – as well as those with congenital, developmental or early onset medical disorders, and school employees working at schools that have in-person education. 

All patients are required to complete registration before getting their vaccine. Registration can be completed by calling the phone numbers below, or visiting the online registration portal where available. Patients are asked to only schedule an appointment with one organization.

  • Mahoning County Public Health: 330 270 2855, option 9 (beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday) or MahoningHealth.org.
  • Youngstown City Health District: 330 502 4276 or Covid19.youngstownohio.gov.
  • Mercy Health: 1 866 624 0366
  • Southwoods Health: 330 965 5099 (beginning at 8 a.m. Friday)
  • Giant Eagle: Call your local pharmacy beginning Jan. 20 to see when vaccines will be available and for scheduling.

If patients are eligible for the vaccine, the organization administering it will contact them and set up an appointment. Anyone who can get a vaccine can register, but the doses will be administered according to Ohio Department of Health guidelines.

The administration of vaccines will be broken down by age groups, with those 80 and older able to get the vaccine the week of Jan. 19, followed by those 75 and older or with medical disorders the week of Jan. 25, those 70 and older or K-12 school employees the week of Feb. 1 and those 65 and older the week of Feb. 8.

“I’d love to get everyone over 65 a vaccine next week, but we’ve had to stagger them based on the Ohio Department of Health’s recommendation. Ideally, we’ll have more supply but we know the reality of what’s out there right now,” said Dr. James Kravec, chief medical officer for Mercy Health-Youngstown and medical director of Mahoning County Public Health. “Hopefully, we continue to get new supplies every week and we can continue this as long as we need. Right now, though, the goal is to get through each age group as quick as we can.”

With the limited number of doses available – more are expected in coming weeks, but the exact number and their arrival date are unknown, said Mahoning County Public Health commissioner Ryan Tekac – there is a possiblity that not all those who register and are eligible will get a vaccine in this round.

“We want to vaccinate everyone in our community, but we also ask for your patience as we continue to work through this process,” he said.

None of the organizations are expecting to have vaccines go unused. Kravec said Mercy Health had no unused vaccines in Phase 1A – health-care workers – and Tekac said the same of his organization.

“We’ve had over the past couple weeks, a few days where there are leftovers. We’ve called the next person on the list and if they can get to us within an hour, they get vaccinated. If not, we go to the next person,” said Erin Bishop, commissioner of the Youngstown City Health District. “Our list is about 100 deep, so we’re not worried about getting rid of any vaccines.”

A similar process will be followed for Phase 1B, all said, with staff going down the list to find those who are able to get the vaccine before doses expire. Already, Bishop said, about 2,400 people have registered for the new phase, more than enough to account for the 500 doses received.

“I can guarantee that we’ll have a long list and we can make those phone calls toward the end of the day to ensure that vaccines are distributed to someone in Phase 1B before they expire,” Tekac added.

The goal for all agencies, Kravec said, is to have every dose in the shipment used within a week of its arrival.

“The more patients and residents we can vaccinate, the closer we will come to having a safe environment for all of us,” he said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.