Coronavirus: Rocking Horse begins staff vaccinations — to low interest

Officials at Rocking Horse Community Health Center in Springfield are attempting to quell staff concerns about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine — as roughly half have no interest in it.

Rocking Horse’s Chief Medical Director Dr. Yamini Teegala kicked off staff vaccinations this week with cheers and photographs.

She said she and others at Rocking Horse are hoping to drum up excitement about vaccinations because of the approximate 220 Rocking Horse employees eligible to receive the vaccine right now, only about 40 to 50% of staff want it.

“And that is understandable. I think any such worry should be met with some validation to hear out what their concerns are and I think that is one of the methods we are trying to use,” Teegala said. “We are trying to use motivational interviews to understand what their concerns and fears are.”

Rocking Horse isn’t the only one facing an uphill battle to vaccinate staff. According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention this fall, 63% of health-care providers nationwide said they were interested in getting the vaccine.

The remaining percentage said they were at least slightly anxious about the vaccine or had some concerns.

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Teegala said she understands concerns about the speed at which the vaccine was brought to market, but wants the public to know it was thoroughly tested and studied by the FDA.

“Of course there is skepticism and concern and apprehension surrounding the vaccine because of the speed and also just in general with worry about the pandemic,” Teegala said. “But I truly believe this is one time as a community, and as a country and as a state, or as any organization, we need to get together and understand what are the risks versus the benefits.”

Rocking Horse has already applied with the Ohio Department of Health to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines, Teegala said. When it comes time to vaccinate the general public, she said the health center plans to listen to the public’s concerns and address those concerns as needed.

“What we are doing at Rocking Horse is following the science. We are not going to dismiss fears. We are not going to be dismissive of their concerns. We are going to spend time to explain, educate and anchorage,” Teegala said.

Springfield Regional Medical Center was among the first 10 hospitals in Ohio to receive the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 15. The shipment contained 975 doses of the vaccine that were all given to front-line health care personnel over the course of that week.

Last week, the Clark County Combined Health District, and other local health departments across the state, received 500 doses of the vaccine for emergency medical service personnel.

Around the same time, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the groups included in Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Members of this group include Ohioans ages 65 and older, people who work in schools and those with severe inherited or development disorders.

But, according to the CCCHD, Clark County is still in Phase 1a of vaccinations and that is projected to continue into early 2021.

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Members eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1a include: EMS responders/urban search and rescue, long-term care facility staff and residents, Local Health Department (LHD) point of dispensing personnel, correctional facility and medical staff, coroner/morgue staff conducting autopsies, home health staff and clients, group home staff and residents, residential care facilities, Federally Qualified Health Care Center, healthcare practitioners, urgent care centers, school nurses, dialysis centers, dental providers, hospice staff, pharmacists and ancillary healthcare staff.

The health district is asking residents not included in that list to refrain from calling and asking about scheduling a vaccine appointment.

“When we find out, we will release the information as soon as we can. CCCHD will post when scheduling for 1b begins on Facebook as well as on our website,” a statement from the CCCHD said.

Clark County had 8,868 cases, 216 deaths and six probable deaths of the coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Facts & Figures:

220: Roughly the amount of Rocking Horse Comunity Health Center employees who are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

40-50: Percentage of those employees who are interested in receiving the vaccine

222: Total number of COVID-19 deaths in Clark County, as of Wednesday

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