GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Health Department is preparing to receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine.
Tyler Schweickart with the health department, told the Tribune he expects the Moderna vaccine to arrive next week. This week, Schweickart said two freezers to help eventually store the Pifizer vaccine arrived as well.
The health department has shared its initial plan of distribution for those agencies that fall under Phase 1A.
“Unfortunately, we will not receive enough vaccine initially to cover all those in 1A but as vaccine becomes available we will ensure timely vaccination of these agencies,” a statement from the department explained.
The following groups will be vaccinated first in Gallia County:
Home health workers;
Emergency medical services responders;
Primary care practitioners;
Free-standing emergency department, urgent care, pharmacy, and dialysis center providers not vaccinated by hospitals or healthcare systems;
Public health employees who are at risk of exposure or transmission, such as vaccinators;
Mobile unit practitioners;
Federally-qualified health center providers;
High-risk ancillary health care staff members.
“If you are part of this group please have your agency reach out to us if we have not contacted you already,” the health department said via a post on its Facebook page Friday. “Again, we will not have enough vaccine to cover all individuals on this list but we will work as quickly as possible to ensure you have access to the vaccine.”
Schweickart stressed with the Tribune the health department practices on a yearly basis mass vaccination.
“We model our throughput to be able to vaccinate every resident in Gallia County within 72 hours,” he said. “With this vaccine we won’t be vaccinating the entire population all at once but it highlights the ability of the health department to ensure a quick response when vaccine is available.”
For individuals that do not fall under the 1A vaccination phase, the health department will be posting regular updates as soon as they have more information on when those individuals can receive the vaccine.
For now, Schweickart said the health department will be the primary distributor of the vaccine and will also be working with other care providers in regards to distribution efforts.
Though the vaccine is seen by many as good news, hand washing and masks are still recommended to combat the spread of the virus, Schweickart said.
The holiday season is also in full swing with many family gatherings traditionally planned — as noted by public health officials, some gatherings could potentially present risks regarding COVID-19.
“We are still stressing and pleading with the community to keep their celebrations small,” Schweickart said, also noting he understands public health encompasses many facets including mental health, which in regards to COVID-19, can include the effects of social isolation.
“We don’t take lightly stressing the importance of keeping your celebrations small, keep it to household contacts, understand your health impacts those around you…we’re all connected,” he said.
For more information, follow the Gallia County Health Department on Facebook.
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.