LIMA — With the COVID-19 vaccine now available locally, the next steps are rolling it out locally.
So far, Allen County Public Health has received roughly 1,000 Moderna vaccination doses they will administer throughout the county starting with medical professionals and elderly in nursing homes. Making sure the rest of the population, however, has access might take a little more work, and the health department is looking for help to make the process easier.
Allen County Health Commissioner Kathy Luhn said there’s no set date when the large-scale rollout phase will begin, but she urged businesses and residents to start getting ready now.
“There’s no particular timeline. We are not accepting waiting lists right now, because we just don’t know how to plan for that. At this point, we do know that there will be a big demand. We are seeking people to help us though as volunteers,” Luhn said.
She clarified that most volunteers won’t be administering the actual shot itself, but the extra helpers will be used throughout the rollout period to organize events and keep the process moving forward efficiently. She estimated that the public health department could need roughly 500 volunteers throughout the next few months, as well as a number of volunteer medical professionals to help give the shots.
For their time, volunteers working in the clinic get the added perk of receiving their own vaccination faster for helping the department.
Outside of volunteering, larger businesses can also help with the rollout by talking to its employees and getting a precise count of those that want to receive the vaccine, Mayor David Berger said. Because the vaccine itself requires cold temperatures, the logistics of administering them can be a little tricky and having a precise number of doses needed can help when it comes time for employees to receive a vaccine. Berger said the city is already taking such steps.
“We won’t have to wait a week to gather that information. So I’d just like to encourage organizations to actually take that step because it will facilitate the kind of administration that will help get the vaccine as far distributed through the community as possible,” Berger said.
Outside of all these logistical problems, the rollout also faces one other major obstacle — actually getting people to take their medicine.
Berger said when Lima Fire Department personnel were given the option to receive the vaccine because of their roles as first responders, only 30% opted for the shot. Another third had already been sick and recovered, and the final third didn’t want it.
Luhn said even those who have been come down with COVID-19 in the past should still get the vaccine for its added defense against the disease.
“For the most part, you’re looking at a sore arm for a couple days after you receive the vaccine. You might have a fever. You may not feel good for a couple of hours, but then you’ll feel better afterwards,” Emergency Planner Brandon Fischer with Allen County Public Health said. “If you get a headache, you can have muscle pain and soreness. That’s the vaccine working in your body and your body responding to that vaccine and giving you that protection.”
The vaccine itself works via injection of messenger RNA coded to battle the coronavirus and make it ineffective.
“It’s important for people to know that the COVID vaccine is a safe and effective tool to help stop the pandemic. We need to use every tool available to us on our road to recovery in 2021,” Luhn said.
Once medical professionals, first responders and nursing home patients are administered the vaccine, the next round will consist of residents who are 65 and older as well as school staffs. There’s currently no timeline for when such administration will begin locally.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.