PORTSMOUTH — The last two holidays- St. Patrick’s Day and now April Fool’s Day- have brought significant developments in the local effort to battle the coronavirus.
Just two weeks ago, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio first lady Fran DeWine paid a visit to Portsmouth to inspect the city’s drive-thru vaccination process where 245 residents received their first dose.
“I think both Scioto County and Portsmouth are doing very well,” DeWine told the press in front of the Portsmouth City Health Department building March 17. “One thing that we always find that makes us very good is when to people who have their vaccination and are very happy about it. This is the only I’ve seen people be happy about seeing a needle.”
Thursday’s event served as the first large mass vaccination in Scioto County, a total of 417 scheduled to receive confirmed by PCHD Public Information Officer Cathy Mullins.
Through a partnership between PCHD and Shawnee State University, the event took place in the backdrop of expanded access to the vaccine. Earlier this week, statewide eligibility reached the population of those age 16 and older as nearly 30% of Ohio had started the vaccine as of March 31.
There, SSU Health Clinic volunteers guided participants through the Waller Street campus entrance past the soccer field and then behind the Morris University Center. Following the injection of the Pfizer vaccine, they were waived ahead to the waiting area. They would spend about 15 minutes there before getting the all-clear sign if no side effects were felt.
“We’ve tried to make sure that getting vaccinated is as easy as possible for the campus and anyone wanting to get their vaccination,” said SSU President Dr. Jeff Bauer during the event, hoping to hold more mass vaccinations throughout April.
All recipients and caregivers of those under the age of 18 were provided a fact sheet that detailed the benefits and risks of the vaccine. Among the most commonly reported side effects, tiredness, headache, nausea, and chills have been attached with the Pfizer vaccine.
The safety of the vaccine received promising news Wednesday, where survey results of 2,260 U.S. volunteers between ages 12 and 15 found no COVID-19 cases when fully vaccinated. Previous clinical trials were only of the 16 and older population, most recent data finding efficacy rates of 100% in preventing severe cases as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Its efficacy, seven days to six months after the second dose, was lower based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition and 91.3% effective in preventing the disease in general.
“These data confirm the favorable efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine and position us to submit a Biologics License Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairperson and chief executive officer in a statement. “The high vaccine efficacy observed through up to six months following a second dose and against the variant prevalent in South Africa provides further confidence in our vaccine’s overall effectiveness.”
Those that received their first dose Thursday will come back in three weeks for their second and final dose. As of April 1, the Ohio Department of Health reports that nearly 20,000 or 26% of Scioto residents have started the vaccine and almost 14,000 have completed the process.
Scioto leads it neighboring counties in terms of population share started on the vaccine but is below the state average. The county previously led Ohio in the measure.