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Locals can’t meet demand for vaccine

Today is the start of vaccinating Ohioans at least 80 years old — though there aren’t nearly enough doses this week to give to even 25 percent of that age group.

With a limited amount of vaccines available and high demand, there have been issues for some calling health departments, hospitals and other medical facilities as well as pharmacies to register.

Mahoning County is supposed to get 3,075 first-dose vaccines and Trumbull County is to receive 2,300 doses this week. Two doses of the vaccination, about three to four weeks apart, are needed.

Mercy Health will start giving the vaccines today at its primary care centers in North Lima, Youngstown and Howland, said Dr. James Kravec, its chief clinical director. Before getting a vaccination, a date for a second dose will be scheduled, he said.

Once Mercy Health runs out of vaccines it won’t start scheduling for next week until it finds out how many doses it will get for that week, Kravec said.

“Once we’re full for this week, we’re done,” he said. “The state says we can’t make appointments for next week. We don’t know how many (vaccines) we’re getting next week. We don’t know when we’ll find out when we’re getting the doses. Once we do, we’ll start scheduling for next week.”

Mercy Health isn’t compiling a waiting list, Kravec said.

Giant Eagle is getting 100 doses each for five of its Mahoning County and six of its Trumbull County pharmacies beginning Wednesday.

Burghill-Vernon Fire Chief George Snyder, of the Trumbull County Incident Management Team, said he and other team members have been in contact with Giant Eagle regional management officials after some concerns by residents that they have not been able to schedule appointments at the store pharmacies.

Asked to comment about customers saying Giant Eagle has informed them they’re already overbooked, Jim Sweeney, a spokesman, said the company hasn’t scheduled any appointments yet so that’s not the case.

The company will issue a statement today on its vaccine process, he said. Giant Eagle is supposed to start vaccinations Wednesday.

There are about 420,000 people in the 80-and-old age group, but the state is expected to get about 100,000 first-dose COVID-19 vaccines this week. That age group accounts for 53 percent of the state’s COVID-19 fatalities.

FAIRGROUNDS

Frank Migliozzi, Trumbull County Combined Health District commissioner, said the district already is booked full for Wednesday and Thursday, when it will distribute the vaccines to those 80 and older in a drive-thru at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds in Bazetta Township.

He said appointments are mandatory, and people in that age group can call the health department at 330-675-7844 to be scheduled for next week. Migliozzi said people also can call other locations at the hospitals, Warren Health Department or Giant Eagle pharmacies.

Migliozzi said the health department has 1,100 doses of the vaccine available, not enough for the 80-plus-aged population. The week of Jan. 25 the vaccine distribution is scheduled for people age 75 and older but also will include those age 80 and older who could not get their vaccines this week, he said.

Health department staff was scheduled to be setting up today for vaccine distribution from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday — with 100 people scheduled per hour both days.

“The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department will be helping us by checking people’s names at the gate at the fairgrounds to make sure they are on the list and scheduled for that hour. No one can receive the vaccine if they do not have an appointment. If they are not on the list, they will not be able to get in,” Migliozzi said.

NEXT GROUPS

Those in Ohio at least 75 years of age as well as those who are younger with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders are eligible for the vaccine starting next Monday.

Those age 70 and older as well as adults at K-12 schools that have in-person or partial in-person instruction or plan to go that route are scheduled to start being vaccinated Feb. 1.

The week of Feb. 8 is when those at least 65 years of age are anticipated to be eligible for the vaccine.

There are about 2.2 million people in Ohio among seniors, those with medical disorders and K-12 staff.

The Ohio Department of Health reported 444,524 total vaccinations given in the state as of 6 a.m. Monday, with only 9,386 given in the previous 24 hours. The state started the vaccinations Dec. 14.

The ODH COVID-19 website doesn’t provide information on how many people have received two doses. But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report at least 13,552 Ohioans have received both doses.

Those vaccinated before today were health care workers and personnel routinely involved with COVID-19 patients, emergency medical responders and those living and / or working in congregate settings, such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

Those at hospitals were supposed to stop giving the vaccine Sunday and give unused doses to either those who are at least 80 years of age or return them to the state for redistribution.

Overall, the ODH reported Monday that 3.8 percent of the state’s population had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The Mahoning Valley has received less than the state average.

As of Monday, 3.67 percent of Mahoning County’s population (8,404 people), 2.59 percent of Trumbull County’s population (5,133 people) and 2.94 percent of Columbiana County’s population (2,994 people) have received at least a first dose of the vaccine, according to the ODH.

LOW REPORTED COVID-19 CASES

Meanwhile, Ohio reported the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases Monday in nearly two and a half months.

But as Gov. Mike DeWine has said numerous times, the numbers of cases reported on Sundays and Mondays are typically lower than the rest of the week. That’s caused by a lag in providing that information to the state because of weekends.

Also, Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday, which likely impacted the reporting totals. During the past three federal holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day — the state didn’t provide updates on COVID-19 data.

There were 4,312 cases reported Monday in the state. It was the lowest number of reported cases in Ohio since Nov. 4, 2020, with 4,071.

The daily average of cases for the past 21 days is 7,430.

The ODH reported 831,066 total COVID-19 cases in the state Monday with 694,072 presumed recovered and 10,281 deaths.

Staff writer Bob Coupland contributed to this story.

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