‘We will underperform’: Clark County’s health commissioner says vaccination plan for Phase 1b still fuzzy

Two Mercy Health - Springfield employees handle a box of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Thursday that those 85-plus could begin receiving the vaccine next week, Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said on Friday that the health district “does not have any vaccine for 1b, nor do we know yet how much vaccine we are going to get.” Contributed
Two Mercy Health - Springfield employees handle a box of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Thursday that those 85-plus could begin receiving the vaccine next week, Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said on Friday that the health district “does not have any vaccine for 1b, nor do we know yet how much vaccine we are going to get.” Contributed

It is still unclear when vaccinations for Clark County residents in Phase 1b of Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination plan will receive their shots — despite the governor announcing last week that some in the group can begin receiving doses next week.

Gov. Mike DeWine released the vaccination schedule on Thursday for Phase 1b, a group that includes Ohioans aged 65 and older, K-12 school staff and those with severe medical issues. DeWine said Ohioans ages 80 and older will be able to start receiving coronavirus vaccines on Jan. 19, with the state extending the age group eligible to receive the vaccine by five years each week.

But despite DeWine’s announcement, Clark County Combined Health District Commissioner Charles Patterson said on Friday that the health district “does not have any vaccine for 1b, nor do we know yet how much vaccine we are going to get.”

“We don’t have the information. We don’t know who is going to get the COVID shots in two weeks. We do know that the target population at that time will be 80-plus, so that question is certainly answered,” Patterson said. “I’m not trying to be dismissive of the questions, but the fact of the matter is, we don’t have those answers, we’re not the ones calling the shots at this point,” he said in his weekly Facebook Live stream on Friday.

Patterson said the health district has been told by the Ohio Department of Health that a shipment of between 100,000 and 120,000 Moderna vaccines will be arriving in the state the week of Jan. 18.

Looking at the statewide numbers, Patterson said the break down of those wanting to be vaccinated and the number of doses the state has doesn’t add up.

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“There are about 450,000 people living in Ohio who are 80-plus, there are going to be about 100,000 vaccinations available across the state for those 80-plus individuals. We estimate that approximately 400,000 out of those 450,000 will actually be interested in getting the vaccine. So that means that one in four of those people who are interested in getting it, will get it that first week,” Patterson said.

Because of that, Patterson said the current vaccination plan laid out by the governor and ODH is going to be “incredibly difficult to implement” at the local level and is setting local health districts up to “over promise and underperform.”

“We will underperform because there is one vaccine for every four people that want it and the following week we are going to add a couple hundred thousand. Now each week the deficient between the number of doses that we have available in the state and the number of people who qualify and want the vaccine, that keeps getting bigger,” Patterson said.

As of Monday, the health district is still unsure how many doses of the vaccine they will receive next week, Kyle Trout, communications coordinator for the CCCHD said.

“So we have not been able to schedule any appointments yet,” Trout said.

While the health district waits for more information from the state, Trout urges the public to “remain patient.” In the meantime, those eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1b can sign up on the health district’s website (ccchd.com) to receive a text or call from the CCCHD when more information becomes available.

Those who sign up on the health district’s website will only receive new information about the vaccine, not be given appointments.

The health district and the Clark County Emergency Management Agency will release information, whether it be by press conference or some form of “public release,” about when and how eligible residents can get vaccines, on Wednesday or Thursday, according to the county’s spokesperson Michael Cooper.

The announcement will be made in compliance with DeWine’s Thursday request that all local emergency management agencies and health departments across the state hold a press conference this week to share how eligible residents can get vaccinated.

Clark County had 10,057 cases of the coronavirus as of Monday, according to ODH. The county also had 241 deaths and 12 probable deaths according to data from the CCCHD.

Nearly 8,000 daily cases of the coronavirus were reported in Ohio on Monday, according to ODH. The state added 7,892 cases, bringing its total to 784,957. Over the last three weeks, Ohio has reported an average of 7,410 cases a day.

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