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Health Commissioner, EMA Director address public on next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations

TiffinOhio.net Staff

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Seneca County Health Commissioner Beth Schweitzer (left) and Seneca County EMA Director John Spahr

Tiffin, Ohio — Seneca County Health Commissioner Beth Schweitzer and Seneca County Emergency Management Agency Director John Spahr hosted a press conference Thursday afternoon to help distribute information about the COVID-19 vaccine in Seneca County.

Schweitzer said that the health department has partnered with Seneca County EMA to lead the vaccination process in Seneca County.

“Health departments have trained for years in preparation for carrying out vaccinations during a pandemic event like this,” she said. “We have decades of expertise when it comes to preparing and managing mass vaccination clinics. Our experience with vaccinating for the seasonal flu and the H1N1 pandemic, as well as ongoing training, has prepared us for this work.”

Schweitzer said the county is now moving into Phase 1B vaccinations, which starts with people who are 80 and older.

“The goal of Phase 1B is to save lives of the most vulnerable citizens and to get kids back in school,” she said.

The phases are defined and established by the state government. Those 75 and older, those with severe congenital, developmental and early onset medical disorders, those 70 and older, those 65 and older and employees of K-12 schools that wish to remain in or return to in-person learning or hybrid training are also part of this phase.

In Seneca County, there is no timeline on when the county will be moving through each of the tiers of Phase 1B, and Schweitzer said the current focus will be on people who are 80 and older. Schweitzer said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has said about 2.2 million Ohioans are eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1B.

According to recent Census data, about 2,500 citizens Seneca County citizens are 80 and older. If you are eligible under Phase 1B and would like to be added to the waiting list for the vaccine, visit this link.

Schweitzer said in the past week, the health department has received calls from those who are 80 and older to be placed on a waiting list.

“I am sorry we are unable to call people back to tell them they are on the waiting list,” she said. “We will start calling people back later this week and into next week to set up appointments.” Schweitzer said 300 doses of the vaccine are to arrive at the health department next week, meaning the first 300 people on the list who are 80+ will be called. The first vaccination clinic is tentatively set for Saturday, January 23rd. You will receive a call with an exact appointment time and location if you are eligible to be vaccinated during this clinic.

Due to a low quantity of doses of the vaccine coming into the county, it will take several weeks to

vaccinate those who are 80 and older, and so the county plans to gradually move into the lower age ranges. More information will be released as we move through the process.

“Vaccines are in short supply in Ohio and across the country. County allocations are expected in the hundreds, not thousands,” Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer also announced that Tiffin Kroger, Fostoria Kroger and Mercy Health – Tiffin Hospital are to receive 100 doses of the vaccine each. Please do not call these facilities, as that is not how scheduling appointments for the vaccine is going to work.

Instead, visit www.kroger.com/ohiocovidvaccine, or call the Kroger COVID-19 vaccine helpline at (866) 211-5320. The helpline will go active on Jan. 16. All information related to Mercy Health – Tiffin Hospital’s plan is to be available on the Ohio Department of Health’s website. Please do not call these facilities directly.

“While we know that many people in our community are eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we must be patient while demand for the vaccine remains higher than the available supply. As vaccine supply increases, we will be able to vaccinate more of those in Phase 1B, and eventually, all Ohioans who choose to be vaccinated will be able to receive COVID-19 vaccines,” Schweitzer said.

Spahr said Seneca County EMA is doing its best to assist the health department and to help distribute information related to COVID-19 and the vaccine. He emphasized that the county is doing its best to spread this information, but also encouraged people to share the details with friends, neighbors and family members. “We need your help to get the word out,” he said.

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