OTTAWA — Once you receive a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, you’re pulled into a waiting room for a few minutes to make sure there weren’t any unanticipated side effects from the inoculation.
U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, had a similar idea with the Putnam County Health Department on Tuesday afternoon, taking a few minutes to survey health officials to be sure vaccine distributions weren’t causing any unexpected pains for the providers.
“I think back to where we were last year at this time,” said Latta, who sits on a subcommittee that had a role in getting the vaccines approved. “… Never in history can you really go back to point at anything quite like this.”
Putnam County leads area counties in vaccination rates through Tuesday, with 29.18% of the population getting at least its first dose of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations. The health department primary distributes the Pfizer version.
In comparison, 28.42% of state residents started the vaccine, with Van Wert County next in line locally (24.95%), followed by Auglaize County (23.82%), Allen County (23.66%), Mercer County (22.79%) and Hardin County (21.28%).
Putnam County saw high demand for the vaccines when they first became available, with 656 vaccines started Jan. 30. That number’s dropped since then, with 416 vaccines distributed on the day of last week’s most recent large clinic. While people older than 70 have been vaccinated at nearly an 80 percent rate, the numbers are lower the younger the age. One area of concern was the 36.91% of the population in its 50s who’ve received their first shot.
“The 50 to 59 actually had the highest number of cases in that age group too,” said Joan Kline, public information officer for the health department. “That’s the group that I wish would step up now and get the vaccine.”
There have been vaccination clinics at eight sites around the county. The numbers of coordination, which health commissioner Kim Rieman called “organized chaos,” were staggering. The call center to schedule vaccinations, operated with the help of the Putnam County Emergency Management Agency, saw 857 volunteer hours spread among 37 volunteers. The vaccine clinics themselves have seen 1,600 hours of volunteer hours spread among 113 volunteers, all without actively recruiting volunteers.
“Now we’re running like a smooth, oiled machine because of all the work that was put into it beforehand,” Rieman said. “You know what’s really great is when someone comes through a clinic, and they say, ‘This was great. I want to be a part of it and help.’”
Latta said his goal is to keep vaccines and personal protective equipment coming in to places that can deliver it, and events like Tuesday’s roundtable help him identify how he can help.