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Toledo-Lucas County Health Dept. urges pre-registration for COVID-19 vaccine, plans ahead for next phase of distribution

The health department announced Tuesday it would begin hosting weekly press conferences, updating Lucas County residents on the status of vaccine distribution.

Leaders with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department are urging people to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine as the county works to plan ahead for distribution.

The registration page, which is now live on the TLCHD website, asks a series of questions aimed at providing people with the most current information on their status in line, as well as helping the health department gauge public interest in preparation for the state's next phases.

Those who sign up will receive a newsletter with current vaccine information and updates on how the process is working locally.

Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski made clear that registration does not lock you into a spot, so if you decide a month later you feel uncomfortable, you don't have to get the vaccine and vice versa. The idea is mostly for information gathering, so if you are interested, you will know how to secure a spot once the time comes and the county will be better prepared to efficiently distribute its supply of doses.

In an effort to remain transparent, Zgodzinski said that the department will begin to provide weekly press conferences with localized information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. During those briefings, Lucas County residents will learn how many doses of the vaccine are expected in the coming week, where vaccinations will be taking place, who can get vaccinated, how you will be notified when you are able to get vaccinated, etc. 

WHO GETS THE VACCINE NEXT?

So far, Ohio has been operating under Phase 1a, providing vaccines to:

  • Health care workers and personnel who are routinely involved in the care of COVID-19 patients.
  • Residents and staff at nursing homes
  • Residents and staff at assisted living facilities
  • Patients and staff at state psychiatric hospitals
  • People with intellectual disabilities and those with mental illness who live in group homes or centers and staff at those locations
  • Residents and staff at Ohio veterans homes
  • EMS responders

Zgodzinski said that in Lucas County, his department is responsible for around 10,000 people who fit into one of these categories. While he said he anticipates achieving this in the next few weeks, it is all dependent on the amount of the vaccine the department actually receives, which isn't known until a few days before each shipment arrives.

Once Phase 1A is mostly complete, the state and local health departments can move onto vaccinating the next group of people. On Dec. 23, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine revealed that in Phase 1B, the following people would be among the next in line for the vaccine:

  • People 65 and older
  • Those with inherited or developmental disorders
  • Staff in K-12 schools

No set date for this next phase has been released, however, DeWine said Tuesday the goal is to get started in two weeks.

Groups are determined by the state, with doses being sent to health departments, hospitals and pharmacies for distribution at long-term care facilities.

Zgodzinski said he's had multiple conversations with local school leaders, discussing the plan for when the vaccine is eventually made available for staff. Many districts, he said, are already canvassing to see who would be interested in getting vaccinated.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

State leaders have drawn scrutiny as law enforcement has been left out of the next phase of distribution.

Zgodzinski said during Tuesday's conference that he, among other county health leaders, has argued for the inclusion of police officers in Phase 1B. However, he made clear that he would be following the directives of the governor, noting that as soon as those individuals are able to get vaccinated, they will push them toward a clinic to get their shots.

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAS THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT VACCINATED?

The population of Lucas County is around 425,000. 

The health department received its first shipment of 2,700 doses just before Christmas followed by shipments of 800 and 700.

Of those doses, here is what has been distributed by the health department:

  • Dec. 23 - 40 doses
  • Dec. 28 - 230 doses
  • Dec. 29 - 150 doses
  • Dec. 30 - 320 doses

Here's a look at the health department's vaccination schedule for this week: 

  • Jan. 5 - 700
  • Jan. 6 - 250
  • Jan. 7 - 550
  • Jan. 8 - 500
  • Jan. 9 - 180

The goal by the end of this week is to have nearly 2,200 vaccinations in arms. However, Zgodzinski acknowledged that number is just a drop in the bucket compared to what the county needs. Lucas County's distribution is above the state average, but the health commissioner said it's still not good enough.

The current supply is enough to vaccinate 5% of the county's population. 

Zgodzinski said he likely won't know how many doses the county can expect next week until Thursday.

HOW LONG AFTER TAKING THE VACCINE AM I IMMUNE?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. 

Zgodzinski said that with these vaccine options, it takes about 14 days after your first dose for it to become about 50% effective. 

For the Pfizer vaccine, you would get your second dose 21 days after the first. For Moderna, the wait time is 28 days. 

After that second dose is finally administered, it takes another two weeks to become about 95% effective.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PFIZER AND MODERNA VACCINES? 

Once the vaccines are shipped, each company's option is a bit different in how it is stored.

Pfizer's vaccine has to stay very cold. In fact, the local health department doesn't have the specific type of freezer needed for its storage. However, some area hospitals do have the ultra-cold freezers necessary, so the Pfizer vaccine doses are sent there.

Moderna's vaccine doesn't have to stay quite as cold and can be stored in freezers that are more regularly available. 

These differences dictate how the county sets up its clinics.

ALLERGIC REACTIONS IN LUCAS COUNTY

Zgodzinski said Tuesday that the health department had only one noteworthy reaction to the vaccine, noting that the individual had some sort of food allergy.

He said that out of the thousands of vaccines administered, he would rather have zero reactions, but that they aren't seeing a trend of this happening right now.

Zgodzinski urged people to conduct their own research and be aware of what could give you a reaction to the vaccine. 

Anecdotally, he said, the more common symptoms following vaccination seem to be soreness in the arm, some redness, fatigue and a headache the next day.

COMPLETE PRESS CONFERENCE