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Ohio plans next steps for vaccine

Many elderly residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley are calling into local health departments, the Times and local pharmacies with the same question.

“How do I schedule my shot? How can I get the vaccine?” they ask. “I can’t get anyone to call me back and give me a straight answer.”

Ohio is moving into Phase 1B of its coronavirus vaccination effort, coordinated through the state’s regional readiness coordinators and county emergency management coordinators.

That’s how first responders in Washington County saw the first opportunities for shots in the first weeks of the new year following medical professionals like those published on social media by Memorial Health System.

In a joint press release Friday submitted on behalf of the system, Marietta-Belpre Health Department and Washington County Health Department, an outline of who’s next was provided.

“It’s important to understand that (the) vaccine supply is very limited. There are roughly 15,000 Washington County residents in Phase 1B,” said Marietta-Belpre Health Commissioner Anne Goon.

Persons eligible to be vaccinated during Phase 1B will include:

¯ Residents age 65 and up.

¯ Residents with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders that make them particularly vulnerable. This vulnerable group includes, according to the release, those with:

¯ Cerebral palsy;

¯ Spina Bifida;

¯ Congenital heart disease;

¯ Type 1 diabetes;

¯ Inherited metabolic disorders;

¯ Severe neurological disorders including epilepsy;

¯ Severe genetic disorders including Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Turner syndrome;

¯ Severe lung disease, including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma;

¯ Sickle cell anemia;

¯ Alpha and beta-thalassemia.

¯ Adults/employees in K-12 schools that want to go back, or to remain, educating in person.

“Based on phone calls and emails received by both health departments during the past two weeks, it’s safe to assume that at least 50 percent of these people want to be vaccinated,” said Goon. “Based upon the total quantity of COVID-19 vaccine coming into Washington County next week (900 doses), it may take at least three months to take care of everyone in Phase 1B that wants to be vaccinated.”

According to the release, vaccinations in Phase 1B will begin next Tuesday for residents who are at least 80 years old.

But the release cautioned that as new weeks and younger residents become eligible, that does not mean vaccination of the previous age group is yet complete.

Weeks beginning eligibility, by youngest age at that time:

¯ The week of Jan. 19: Ohioans 80 years of age and older.

¯ The week of Jan. 25: Ohioans 75 years of age and older; those with severe congenital or developmental disorders.

¯ The week of Feb. 1: Ohioans 70 years of age and older; employees of K-12 schools that wish to remain or return to in-person or hybrid models.

¯ The week of Feb. 8: Ohioans 65 years of age and older.

HOW DO I GET THE VACCINE?

Residents will be able to choose among several approved COVID-19 vaccine providers.

Each provider will get a “very” limited supply each week and must comply with social distancing and safety requirements (for example, people being vaccinated must be observed for at least 15 minutes after getting their shot before leaving the vaccination clinic). It is likely that appointments will be required by all providers.

Washington County providers include:

¯ Giant Eagle Pharmacy

¯ Kroger’s Pharmacies in Marietta and Belpre

¯ Marietta/Belpre Health Department

¯ Memorial Health System

¯ Washington County Health Department

Each location decides when and how it will offer appointments.

Marietta/Belpre Health Department is offering vaccinations each week in Marietta and Belpre. Appointments are required and can be scheduled by calling 1-866-395-1588 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Memorial Health System will follow guidelines set forth by the state to open vaccinations to those 80 and older. The hospital will begin with two clinics – Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. This will take place on the Wayne Street Medical Campus in Marietta.

Sign up for an appointment time by calling 1-844-887-4148.

This will be a drive-thru vaccination process so patients should wear clothing that provides easy access to their arm through their car window.

Washington County Health Department is offering online scheduling through its Calendly software, and the link can be found on their website www.washingtongov.org/health.

Senior citizens and persons with disabilities needing assistance can also call the Area Agency on Aging Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by calling 1-800-331-2644.

“Residents who wish to receive their COVID-19 vaccine from other providers will need to reach out directly to them for registration instructions,” said Sherry Ellem, public information officer for the Washington County Health Department. “We will continue to communicate new clinics through social media and through media outlets.”

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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