LIMA — Emily Demasi came to Lima to get a COVID-19 vaccination Friday morning. She probably didn’t expect to walk away with one of Fran DeWine’s Buckeye Brownies too.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine watched as Candace Roberts of Allen County Public Health injected Demasi with the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine Friday morning as part of a state-sponsored mass vaccination clinic at the former Knights of Columbus building on South Cable Road in Lima.
“I work in a nursing home, so it was important to me to protect our elderly population,” said Demasi, who admitted the one-shot vaccine appealed to her as she held onto the plastic-packaged goodies DeWine’s wife handed her.
The DeWines said the visit marked the 20th mass vaccination site they’d visited. Allen County expected to innoculate 700 to 800 people Friday. They also visited a site where DeWine received his law degree, Ohio Northern University. The Ada-based campus will offer mass vaccination clinics for students there as part of a new program unveiled this week to innoculate students, who “generally have not gotten very sick but what we’ve seen is they are pretty good spreaders,” DeWine said.
In all, three clinics were scheduled this week in Lima, with one Saturday and two more next week. “One and done” was a popular refrain for people explaining why some had driven from as far north as Michigan and as far south as Dayton to get the vaccine in Lima.
People can sign up for vaccinations at that site or others around the region at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. Spots were still open Saturday and Thursday at the South Cable Road location as of Friday afternoon.
“Frankly, it’s also inspiring to talk to the people who just got the shot,” DeWine said. “This is a Johnson & Johnson site today, and people are very happy: ‘One shot, we’re done.’ We’ve done a lot of moving and coming along on this.”
Ohio had 30.5% of its population receive at least one dose of a vaccine, according to statistics from the Ohio Department of Health. Allen County has 25.0% of its population having received its first shot, with 25,613 people receiving the first shot and 18,568 people completing their vaccinations, meaning a second shot for the Moderna of Pfizer vaccines.
DeWine emphasized the importance of getting the vaccine, particularly with an uptick in new cases in recent weeks. That’s paired with new strains creeping in northern Ohio. He quipped “the best offense is a good defense.”
Kathy Luhn, the health commissioner for Allen County, said she appreciated the positive feedback about how quickly and easily people went through the process at the mass vaccination clinic.
“We’ve kind of said to ourselves, ‘It’s almost a shot in the arm for us as well,’” Luhn said. “We’ve been doing this for a year. The staff is pretty fatigued. We feel that this is kind of turning the corner.”
Allen County has vaccination rates nearing 70% for people 70 and older, which is the goal of vaccination rates for all age groups in the county. The number drops for people 60 to 65. Vaccines were allowed to all ages of adults starting this week.
“We’re seeing a good uptake,” Luhn said. “I’ve noticed a number of younger people here today anecdotally who’ve been at the clinic this week, so it’s wonderful to see all the different ages taking advantage of this.”
President Joe Biden set a goal of getting vaccines to anyone who wants them by May 1. DeWine said Ohio already hit that goal, given vaccinations’ widespread availability. He said more slots should open in the coming weeks, as availability went from 100,000 doses a few weeks ago to five times that now.
“Many times, people have said, ‘I’m going to go back home and tell my spouse,’ or ‘I’m going to go back home to tell my brother,’” DeWine said. “Really they should come and get it. People listen to their family members. They listen to their doctors. They listen to their close friends. That’s really who gets the vaccine. It’s really important for us to get back to normal.”