First vaccines delivered in region

Coronavirus vaccine scheduled to arrive in Dayton and rest of Ohio next week

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

A day after the first federally approved coronavirus vaccines arrived in Ohio, the first doses administered in the Dayton region were given Tuesday to health care workers at Mercy Health–Springfield Regional Medical Center.

Ohio is expecting shipments of 660,000 vaccine doses in December and 660,000 doses in January. The vaccine should reach all of Ohio’s 88 counties and “virtually every hospital in the state” next week, Gov. Mike DeWine said.

Jennifer Kunkle, an intensive care unit nurse, was the first Springfield Regional employee to receive the vaccine about 1 p.m. Tuesday. She said the vaccine means hope for the community.

“I hope I’m a good example for the community and for my family,” Kunkle said. “The effectivity of it has been proven and I hope others will share in getting it too.”

Kunkle said working during the pandemic has been surreal.

“Hopefully, this vaccine will make its way throughout the community as quickly as the spread came in, and help eradicate this virus,” Kunkle said.

The Ohio Department of Health selected ten hospitals to each receive 975 vaccine doses this week based on geography, population and access to the ultra-cold storage needed to store the vaccine produced by Pfizer. The rest of this week’s shipment of 98,000 vaccines is going to CVS and Walgreens to administer in congregate living facilities such as nursing homes.

A spokesman for Premier Health said in an emailed statement, “we expect to begin vaccinating our health care workforce on or about Dec. 22.”

“At this time, the vaccination will be voluntary for Premier Health employees,” the statement says. “However, we encourage staff to take the vaccine as a preventive measure when it is available to them …The news that a vaccine’s arrival is imminent is very welcome news, and we hope it brings the communities that we serve a sense of optimism during a difficult holiday season.”

DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine greeted the vaccine shipment as it arrived at Springfield Regional.

“This is a happy day in Clark County,” DeWine said. “Beginning yesterday, moving forward every day we are going to see more and more of our front line health workers, people who are exposing their lives and taking chances and protecting us, they are going to be more protected and we are very excited about that.”

Springfield Regional will distribute all of the first shipment to high-risk personnel over the next four days

Much of the vaccine doses Ohio is planning to receive are a second, virtually equally effective, coronavirus vaccine produced by Moderna, which is expected to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration by the end of this week. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require two doses .

Ohio expects a shipment of 201,000 coronavirus vaccine doses from Moderna on or around Tuesday, Dec. 22. Those doses will go to 98 hospitals for health care personnel who work with COVID patients and to 108 health departments to vaccinate other frontline workers.

Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County is anticipating it will receive about 3,100 doses sometime after Tuesday but that “is not a firm number,” according to a spokesman. Public Health said Tuesday morning it will give the vaccine to emergency medical services workers and home health care staff.

DeWine announced Tuesday afternoon that the Ohio Department of Health will be issuing guidance to local health departments to prioritize vaccinating residents in congregate living facilities such as nursing homes that are not enrolled in the federal program. Most congregate living facilities will be handled by retail pharmacies CVS and Walgreens, which begin administering shots on Monday.

A shipment of 123,000 doses from Pfizer is also expected to arrive in Ohio on or around Tuesday. Those vaccines will go to Walgreens and CVS to administer in congregate care settings such as nursing homes.

Nearly a million of the Ohio’s approximately 11.7 million residents work in health care or reside in congregate living facilities. It could take months to give two doses to all the members of the first priority group who want it. DeWine has cautioned Ohioans to continue wearing face masks, social distance and follow other safety protocols as it will take time to reach herd immunity.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 8,755 daily coronavirus cases, 103 deaths and 614 hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Also Tuesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced two grants totaling about $12.7 million to aid two Ohio hospital systems with costs from COVID-19. Premier Health was granted approximately $6.7 million and Ohio State University was granted about $6 million.

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