TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department held a virtual briefing Thursday at 11 a.m. to give an update on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the remainder of Phase 1B in Lucas County. People ages 65 and older are the final wave of the state's Phase 1B and registration for this age group started on Feb. 4.
The state has not yet announced plans for the next phase of vaccinations, presumably Phase 1C. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine may provide more insight into this during his 2 p.m. news conference Thursday afternoon.
On its vaccine website, the health department notes that the amount of vaccine delivered weekly to Lucas County varies. For the week of Feb. 8, the state has prioritized Lucas County's vaccine allotment for school personnel per the governor's goal of getting children back to in-person learning starting in March.
"While this means less vaccine could be allocated for 65+ individuals, it is anticipated the amount of vaccine available for 65+ individuals will increase again as early as next week's vaccine delivery," the website said.
Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski said Thursday that there are 145,000 Lucas County residents who are currently eligible for vaccinations. This week, there were 10,000 vaccines available, of which 8,000 were for K-12 school personnel, leaving 2,000 open appointments.
Next week, more doses will be available by several thousand, Zgodzinski said, since the K-12 doses will have been accounted for. This 1B category will continue for "several weeks," Zgodzinski said.
Has the vaccine made a difference in the community yet? "We're seeing a little bit of mixture here, and it's a little too early to say," Zgodzinski said. "Anecdotally, it's having some influence on the cases. But it goes back to the multiple layers of protection we have right now (masking, handwashing, social distancing)."
Zgodzinski also reminded people that even if you've preregistered at the health department website, you need to still register for your vaccine appointment. That preregistration did not secure you an appointment and was not intended to.
VETERANS AND VACCINES
Veterans can call 419-259-2000 and option 0 to register through the Veterans Affairs office. Vets will need their discharge paper information to register.
PROBLEMS GETTING ON COMPUTERS?
Zgodzinski said the health department has set aside a certain amount of vaccine appointments that accommodate people who are having barriers to scheduling appointments using a computer.
"It truly is for those individuals who need (that extra help)," Zgodzinski said.
These appointments come in through 2-1-1 and Area Office on Aging phone calls.
PROVIDING MORE INFORMATION ON THE VACCINE
On Tuesday, Feb. 16, the VProject and health department will hold an Interfaith Summit to bring information on COVID-19 vaccine to a variety of people with different backgrounds.
Local leaders from multiple faith practices, along with a panel of health experts, will answer questions about the vaccine for the common good of the area's communities.
Participating religious leaders and organizations include:
- Stephen Rothschild, Executive Director – Jewish Federation and Foundation of Greater Toledo
- Imam Ahmad Deeb, Director of Religious Affairs – Islamic Center of Greater Toledo
- Rev. Monsignor William J. Kubacki, Vicar General – Toledo Diocese
- Dr. Calvin Sweeney, Lead Pastor – Tabernacle Church
- Ben Snyder, Lead Pastor – CedarCreek Church
Panel experts include:
- Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, Mayor – City of Toledo
- Ben Robison, Health Commissioner – Wood County
- Dr. Anthony Armstrong, OB/GYN – Mercy Health
- Dr. Nadia Ashraf-Moghul, Emergency Medicine Specialist – ProMedica
WGTE public television will re-broadcast the interfaith summit on Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. and Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. for those who may not have access to the internet.
VACCINES FOR UNDERSERVED AND MINORITY COMMUNITIES
The health department highlighted initiatives to help ensure there are vaccine doses for those in need and underserved populations in the county.
- The health department and Area Office on Aging have teamed with the Ohio National Guard's Regional Rapid Response Assistance Program to provide vaccines to older adults in low-income housing.
- A pilot program with ProMedica and area faith communities is set up to provide vaccines to minority communities
- FLOC also has been holding vaccine clinics to increase vaccinations for Latino and Black community as well as low-income individuals.
NEW RESEARCH: DOUBLE MASKING AND NOT QUARANTINING AFTER FULL VACCINATION
Zgodzinski weighed in on two new areas of research to come out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As far as new CDC guidelines on two masks, he is looking at new research and evidence is showing that two masks, properly fitted, can help better protect against COVID-19 exposure.
"Any gaps that you have really decrease the chances that you are protecting yourself and others," Zgodzinski said. "This is a surgical mask, with another mask over it. The bottom line is one: we need to wear our single mask properly, and two: two masks worn the right way will have more benefit."
He also addressed new research regarding people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 being able to skip quarantining if they're exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus.
Federal guidelines have typically recommended staying home for 14 days after you last had contact with someone who has COVID-19.
However, on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fully vaccinated individuals can skip quarantining if they meet certain criteria.
The criteria include that a person doesn't have any COVID-19 symptoms since the exposure and that they are fully vaccinated (meaning it's been at least 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series like Pfizer and Moderna, or more than 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine.)
K-12 SCHOOL STAFF COVID-19 VACCINATIONS
This week, K-12 school staff in Lucas County start getting vaccinated. Superintendents received vaccinations on Wednesday. The two-day span for K-12 teachers and staff is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12 and 13 at the ROTC hall at the University of Toledo campus.
"The important thing is, you're going to see something in Lucas County that I don't think you've seen in the state of Ohio," Zgodzinski said last week. "(We aim to get) 8,000 teachers and staff through a mass vaccination site in two days. It's going to be a lift for us but I believe we can do it. We've been working with UT to find a large campus and it will be at the ROTC hall."
Zgodzinski said that the health department has worked with UT and Mercy Health, as well as all of the Lucas County school systems and reiterated that instructions will come to staff from their school administrators via an email that describes how to schedule.
SCHOOL STAFF VACCINE DO'S AND DON'TS
- Do NOT use public signup links and do NOT call 2-1-1 for scheduling.
- DO contact your school administrators with questions. Things your administrators can help you with include:
- People who are not available during vaccination times
- Those who could not get an appointment this week
- Those who were not included in the initial eligible list
Last week, Zgodzinski says they've received about 7,000 doses to vaccinate school staff and are making up the rest with supply they have.
However, the vaccine remains in short supply. The county does not get more doses as more people get added to the eligibility list for the vaccine.
Essentially, this means the vaccine becomes even more scarce when more groups get added, until production levels increase.
Lucas County Phase 1B Vaccine Distribution
Here is the schedule already released by the health department:
- Week of February 15 - Those with severe congenital or early-onset medical disorders are eligible for vaccines
- Week of February 8 - 65 and older are eligible for vaccines (schedule opened on Feb. 4); K-12 school employees
- Week of Feb. 1 - 70 and older are eligible for vaccines
- Week of Jan. 25 - 75 and older are eligible for vaccines; those with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities AND severe congenital or early-onset medical disorders
- Week of Jan. 19 - 80 and older are eligible for vaccines
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT VACCINE SCHEDULING
- Individuals should schedule only their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.
- bring a form of identification (such as driver’s license, Medicare card, birth certificate, or other proof of age) and your insurance card. Some providers may bill medical insurance for individuals that have medical insurance, however individuals do not need to have insurance to receive the vaccine. There is no cost to the individual regardless of insurance coverage.
- Appointments may be canceled or rescheduled up to 48 hours in advance of the appointment time.
- Only individuals that live or worked in Lucas County and are 70 years of age or older are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time. Appointments for individuals that do not meet current eligibility criteria will be canceled.
HELP WITH VACCINE SCHEDULING
If you need assistance scheduling an appointment online, please contact United Way 2-1-1 (dial 211 from any phone) or the Area Office on Aging at 419-382-0624.