SCIOTO — The race toward herd immunity, like many sustained tasks, is not an easy one. Few know that better than the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities who have gone to work in vaccinating both its care recipients and caregivers.
Through eight clinics between January and March held at the Vern Riffe School gymnasium, the board went to work vaccinating 105 employees and approximately 225 individuals mostly on-site.
“It was pretty exhausting to be honest,” said VRS Nurse Loretta Cooper in a Thursday interview.”But it was well worth it.”
On face value, 330 people throughout the course of two months does not sound like a significant number especially when compared to recent mass vaccination events where 400-plus were vaccinated in a single day.
Cooper, who also teaches at Shawnee State University, however, said the real story is not the number of people vaccinated but rather the obstacles it took to carry out the clinics.
“We were really dealing with a lot,” she said, taking on additional hours during Christmas break to get ready for the first clinics in early January.
During those winter months, the vaccination effort encountered multiple severe bouts of winter weather. It meant clearing the parking lots and sidewalks during level one and level two snow emergencies when possible and sometimes just having to persevere through thick layers of ice.
“People don’t realize how hard it is pushing a wheelchair through the snow,” she said, the slick roads also requiring the school’s bus crew to demonstrate increased precaution. “It’s practically impossible.”
Those with developmental disabilities were among the earlier groups in the state eligible for the vaccine, part of Phase 1-B of the state’s rollout starting Jan. 25 with the ages 75 and older community.
With the supply given, the board said it did not waste a single dose. For instance, the typical Moderna vaccine vial comes with 10 doses. If there was enough left for an 11th dose, Cooper said the board reached out to others.
This selection was not random, but rather through determining others connected to the school. That included bus drivers, staff with the Carousel Center and Star Adult Services, health care providers and spouses.
Since these extra doses cannot be re-refrigerated, it was either use or throw away.
“We decided that this was the way to go since it would likely help us in the long run,” Cooper said, the more people in a household vaccinated meaning a decreased chance of positive cases and need for quarantines.
What Cooper and Service & Support Administrator Team Leader Joy Copen said made the clinics possible was a collaboration between the city and county health departments, the Portsmouth Fire Department, and county courthouse security officers.
This multi-staffed effort in both the vaccines and supplying of PPE, where Service and Support Administration Director Chad Phipps said masks, gowns, face shields, hygiene and cleaning supplies were provided, is emblematic of what Community Opportunities Navigator Theresa Rowland said it really takes for their work to be a reality.
“From the bus drivers to the help from the Portsmouth Fire Department, we see just how of a village it takes for us to serve,” she said.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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