XENIA — COVID-19 vaccinations are continuing in Greene County, but the process is slow, causing frustration, according to health officials.
Since vaccinations began in January, new age brackets have been added weekly by the state making it difficult to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine, according to GCPH officials. Greene County Public Health is continuing to vaccinate those who remain part of Phase 1A, along with those listed in Phase 1B. Next week, individuals ages 65 and older will be eligible.
According to the governor’s office, this is the breakdown of the phase by date and has been followed by Greene County Public Health:
— This week: Individuals ages 70 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, along with K-12 schoolteachers and staff only for schools which elect to be in person or offer a hybrid model by March 1.
— Week of Feb. 8: Individuals age 65 and older can be vaccinated.
Individuals age 80 and older were eligible beginning Jan. 18, and those 75 and older, along with individuals with severe congenital and/or developmental disabilities and who have been diagnosed with early onset medical disorders were eligible beginning Jan. 25.
Greene County Public Health is using an online registration form that anyone in Phase 1A or 1B can fill out at any time. This form not only registers residents for the vaccine, but also serves to notify them by phone (and email, if provided) when it is their turn to come to an available clinic to receive the vaccine. The list currently has around 20,000 people and is growing by the hundreds each day, according to GCPH officials. As the vaccine is shipped to public health each week, those residents on the list are called in order based on their date of registration and by their eligible age group. The form can be accessed at www.gcph.info and clicking the center blue box that states “Click this box to go to the COVID-19 vaccine sign-up page.” Once you are on the list, there is no need to re-register at any time or to call and check your status. You will remain on the list until you get the call to come to a scheduled clinic. It could take several weeks or even longer, pending vaccine availability, before you receive a call.
“We are focusing on getting our most vulnerable population vaccinated who are most at risk of severe illness should they get COVID-19,” said Melissa Howell, health commissioner for GCPH. “We want to remind everyone that vaccine is in very short supply at this time and vaccinating everyone in Phase 1B is going to take a lot of time. Patience is key.”
In addition, due to the high demand for the vaccine, the phones at the health district have been extremely busy and employees are doing their best to answer as many calls as possible to help people register online. Due to the high volume of calls, many end up going to voice mail. Health district officials are making every effort to return calls, register those without computers, and answer questions via social media as quickly as possible.
There are more than 26,000 Greene County residents ages 65 and older (not including those in congregate care covered by the federal pharmacy plan) who are eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1B. Clinics are being scheduled each week pending the number of doses received.
“At the end of each scheduled clinic, if there are vaccine doses left over, we will call additional people from our list who are eligible but may not have gotten a call for that day,” Howell said. “We will continue to call that list until we use up those last doses so they are not wasted. Fortunately, we are not the only provider in Greene County being supplied with vaccine. We encourage residents to call any of the providers and get on their waiting list as well.”
Should you get your vaccine before you’re notified of a GCPH clinic, send an email to email@example.com and you will be removed from the list. According to the state’s website at vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov, the following locations are listed as enrolled providers: Kroger, Xenia; Kroger, Fairborn; Kroger, Beavercreek; Kroger, Wilmington Pike, Bellbrook; Discount Drug Mart, St. Rt. 725, Bellbrook; Kettering Health Network Vaccine Clinic, Jamestown; Walgreens, East Dayton-Yellow Springs Road, Fairborn; and Walgreens, Wilmington Pike, Bellbrook.
Public Health officials will announce any changes to clinic locations or additional information on new phases as information becomes available through the local news media, social media, and www.gcph.info.
For updates on the vaccination process, visit www.healthalert.gcph.info/COVID19 or www.coronavirus.ohio.gov and click on COVID-19 Vaccination Program. For information about the vaccines currently available, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html.