PORTSMOUTH — Reporting countless phone calls while receiving lower than anticipated amounts of COVID vaccines, the Portsmouth City and Scioto County Health Departments released a Google form Tuesday morning to track requests for the vaccine.
“We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls in both health departments from those in that Phase 1-B group who are basically waiting in line for a vaccine,” said PCHD Public Information Officer Cathy Mullins. “We have more demand than we do vaccine.”
While leading the state in the terms of percentage started on the vaccine, shortages of vaccine doses are in short supply in Scioto and throughout Ohio. To date, Ohio has vaccinated 321,506 individuals or about 2.75% population.
According to the Ohio Department of Health vaccine dashboard, just north of 3,217 have been or 4.2% have been inoculated in Scioto County. The progress made so far, however, is much slower than what the health departments expected at this point.
“It’s not much for a county our size,” said Mullins, both health departments receiving around 100 doses of the vaccine each week. “We are getting it out as fast as we can, but you can only so far with so much.”
Getting the vaccine to the 80 and older community could be crucial in the area’s fight against the virus. Nearly half of Scioto’s 66 deaths where Covid is a contributing factor were those older than 80 and only two have been under the age of 60, according to figures from PCHD and SCHD.
So far, 3.5% of that age range have been vaccinated behind in both numbers and percentage of the age groups between 20 and 69 years old. Over 7% of the 40-49 demographic in the county have received the first of two shots.
According to a news release from the Scioto County Joint Information Center, statewide and local vaccine efforts are still focusing on Phase 1-A, where eligible Ohioans include frontline health workers and those living or working in congregate living facilities.
Those belonging to the next part of the first phase are the focus of the form, which creates a waitlist that will be used for scheduling vaccination appointments once an adequate amount of vaccine has been received.
“We are compiling a list of those 80+ who will be the next eligible group for vaccinations, but at this point, we can’t make definite appointments for individuals since we simply do not know when we will have an adequate amount of vaccine,” said PCHD Commissioner Chris Smith.
Phase 1-B includes those over 65 years of age, which according to the U.S. Census would refer to 17.5% of Ohioans and 18.6% of Scioto County residents, which is roughly 14,000 people.
Others in this phase encompass those with severe congenital or developmental health issues, and school workers will begin when more vaccine is available in the coming weeks.
A hotline has also been created by PCHD for those who want to get vaccinated, the department asking those interested to call and leave a message at 740-352-7020.
Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Jerod Walker asks interested county and Portsmouth residents to use the hotline to get their name on the list.
“We are thrilled about the number of people who want the vaccine and feel your frustration about the wait. We want to vaccinate everyone who wants it, and we will, as the vaccine doses become available,” said Walker.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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