PORTSMOUTH — The first steps were taken in Portsmouth to halt the spread of the coronavirus Monday afternoon following the vaccination of two city Health Department nurses.
Slightly after 2 p.m. at the PCHD building, Public health nurse Mandy Whisman administred the first COVID vaccine to Director of Nursing Christine Thomas in front of members of the local media. The two soon after switched roles, Thomas administering to Whisman.
“I’ve never been so excited by a vaccine,” said Thomas before receiving the Moderna vaccine from her colleague Whisman, whom she has received a good deal of shots from in the past.
Thomas, like other public health professionals, sees the vaccine as a pathway for normalcy’s return and not one to have skepticism regarding its safety.
“I’m not so concerned about protecting myself, but more about protecting others that I may come in contact with,” she said. “I’d hate to be an asymptomatic positive and transmit it to someone else without even knowing it.”
“I didn’t really feel anything,” added Whisman when asked if the vaccine burned or stung in any way.
Projecting anywhere from 250 to 750 vaccines given per week, PCHD Commissioner Chris Smith projected that all health care workers could be vaccinated within the next two-to-three weeks. The department is not alone in this mission, as it’s joined by the Scioto County Health Departments, area hospitals and pharmacies like CVS.
SCHD Commissioner Dr. Jerod Walker said his department is prepared to distribute vaccines to frontline and EMT workers when they arrive this week. Pharmacies will be in-charge of getting vaccines to long-term care facilities.
Following their vaccines, Thomas and Whisman filed paperwork to signify when and which vaccine they received. This information is vital, they said, as the second additional shot is required within the next three-to-four weeks and the same vaccine is required when that day comes.
Simply put, the Moderna vaccine, which PCHD and SCHD each received 500 vaccines each, will have to be taken again. Thomas and Whisman will have to take the second shot near the time of Martin Luther King Day. They cannot take the Pfizer vaccine, which Smith said is not the preferred one since it requires subzero temperature storage.
They are prepared to store these, however, at the Southern Ohio Medical Center’s facilities.
Receipts of the vaccine are being digitized and sent to the Ohio Department of Health to track how many have been vaccinated. According to the ODH dashboard, 6,733 people, or 0.06% of the population have started the vaccine process in the state as of Dec. 21.
As encouraging the news is regarding these vaccines, public health officials and Gov. Mike DeWine say the state is not out of the woodworks where over 8,000 have passed. Scioto’s four deaths Monday were part of the 75 recorded in the state Dec. 21, bringing the county total to 44.
“While there is good reason to be optimistic about Ohioans receiving the vaccine, we have our work cut out for us to slow the spread of the virus until enough Ohioans can be vaccinated,” said DeWine in a press release. “We must continue rallying together to prevent overwhelming our hospitals.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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