There is no set date for the COVID-19 vaccine to be available to people over 65, said Christine Kettunen, Director of Public Health Nursing at the Ashtabula County Health Department.

The state has announced that the vaccine distribution will come in phases, with the state currently in Phase 1A, distributing doses of the vaccine to healthcare workers regularly exposed to COVID-19, EMS first responders and residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Phase 1B will include people age 65 and older, staff at schools and people with severe cognitive, developmental or early-onset medical disorders, according to ODH.

Just over one percent of the county's population, 981 people, have received their first shot of the vaccine, according to information from the Ohio Department of Health.

"We can only give as much [vaccine] as we get in," Kettunen said.

So far, the county health department has received 400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and hopes to vaccinate 100 people at a clinic this week, Kettunen said. The county health department received 200 vaccines in an initial shipment, and 100 per week after that, she said. 

There are still around 300 people who fall into phase 1A that need to be vaccinated by the county health department, Kettunen said. The state will inform the county when the county can move to phase 1B, Kettunen said. The number of people in phase 1B is significantly larger than 1A, she said.

The vaccine has to be stored in a freezer, and is only good for a limited amount of time once it is thawed.

There have been occasional issues with healthcare officials who were scheduled to receive vaccinations had emergencies and were not available to receive their vaccination, Kettunen said. In that case, the health department starts making calls to health care officials to get people immunized, she said.

"So when we do start going and doing the schools, I've already told the schools, 'You have to have 10 people waiting in line for us,' because we have to use that entire vial or it's no good after six hours," Kettunen said. 

So far, no doses of the vaccine have been wasted at the county level, she said.

Nichele Blood, Health Commissioner with the Conneaut Health Department, said that they are still awaiting information from the state on when the next phase can start. 

"Any time that we have someone that calls us and is asking about it, obviously I inform them that once we do get the OK, it's going to be on every form of media I can possibly think of," Blood said.

There have been 3,957 cases of COVID-19 reported in the county since the start of the pandemic, according to ODH. Of those people, 272 have been hospitalized and 66 have died.

Representatives of the Ashtabula City Health Department could not be reached for comment.

Trending Video

Recommended for you