LIMA — One-hundred fifteen Allen County residents with developmental disabilities and their caregivers received their first doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, the first clinic of its kind in the area targeting developmentally disabled adults who at-risk for contracting COVID-19 in congregate living.
The Ohio Department of Health included adults with developmental disabilities and mental health disorders, who often live in group homes or residential facilities, in its Phase 1a vaccine priority list because these shared living spaces are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks, much like nursing homes and assisted living communities.
Caregivers for those who participated in Tuesday’s clinic at the Marimor School were also eligible for the vaccine.
“I said, yes ma’am. I’ll be there,” said Rhonda Jarman, an independent caregiver for the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities, where she provides support services for developmentally disabled adults who need help with errands and other tasks to be self-sufficient.
It was a pleasant surprise for Jarman, who is high-risk herself and worries that she may expose her 80-year-old mother to the disease if one of her clients got sick.
“I don’t play around with this stuff,” Jarman said. “There’s a lot of people on social media who say, ‘Oh, it’s a hoax.’ No, it’s happening. There are people dying everywhere, and I don’t want to be one of them.”
Megan Long, 37, didn’t feel anything when she got her first shot on Tuesday. It just “felt like normal.”
Long, who was laid off from Regal Cinemas last March, is just ready to return to work. And Erin Vermillon, 50, who also attended Tuesday’s clinic, can’t wait to vacation in Florida once the pandemic ends.
There’s still a long way to go.
As of Wednesday, at least 2,800 Allen County residents have received their first doses of vaccine, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Statewide, that number has climbed to 321,500 Ohioans, or just under 3% of the population.