Portage County will start offering vaccines to people at the highest risk of developing severe Covid-19 next week, though the countywide supply is a fraction of the need, officials said in a press briefing Thursday.
The second phase of vaccine distribution, 1B, includes members of the general population who are over 65 years old or those with severe congenital or developmental disorders. Portage County will receive 1,200 doses per week to address a Phase 1B population of 27,000 residents, said Portage County Health Commissioner Joseph Diorio.
“Vaccines continue to be in very short supply for the entire state of Ohio,” he said. “County allocations are expected to be in the hundreds, not the thousands.”
The Phase 1B distribution will roll out in phases, starting with those most vulnerable:
The week of Jan. 19: 80 years of age or older and reside within Portage County
The week of Jan. 25: 75 years of age and older; those with severe congenital or developmental disorders
The week of Feb. 1: 70 years of age and older; employees of K-12 schools that wish to remain or return to in-person or hybrid models
The week of Feb. 8: 65 years of age and older
Because of the limited number of doses, not everyone in each group will receive a vaccine before the next group becomes eligible to receive their dose.
Also next week, Portage County’s medical professionals and first responders will start receiving their second dose of the vaccine. Most of the vaccines distributed so far are from Moderna, a two-dose RNA vaccine administered four weeks apart.
Vaccine distribution is by appointment only. The county will announce the process to schedule an appointment next week.
The second wave of vaccinations comes as the third wave of Covid-19 cases sweeps across the county. As of Thursday, 104 people have died and nearly 100 people per day have tested positive over the last two weeks.
Portage County Emergency Management Director Ryan Shackelford said the third wave has been the worst, coinciding with a general apathy from residents who either don’t support the safety protocols or are burned out from masking and distancing.
“What’s happening now is what we feared would happen the whole time,” he said.
In a statement, the Portage County Health District said the provision of the first doses of Phase 1B is nearly complete:
Portage County Health District received its first doses of vaccine the week of Dec. 20. As of today, Jan. 14, we have received 900 doses of Covid-19 vaccine and vaccinated 811 persons in Phase 1A. The remaining 89 doses will be administered by Saturday, Jan. 16. This phase includes EMS, healthcare workers not covered by the hospital, residents and staff at developmental disability group homes and centers, residential treatment providers, and residents and staff in nursing and assisted living facilities not part of the federal pharmacy program.
Michael Indriolo and Natalie Wolford contributed reporting.