While Adena Health System, like many other organizations administering COVID-19 vaccinations to state-designated members of the public, looks forward to more widespread vaccine availability in the future, it is successfully continuing to maximize the number of shots in arms it is administering with the vaccine it receives.
“We’ve had little to no waste, which is our number one priority – not wasting any vaccine and staying within the parameters the Ohio Department of Health has given us,” said Seth Haynes, Adena Director of Performance and Quality Improvement who has also been involved with state and regional discussions regarding the vaccine rollout.
Currently, those state parameters permit vaccination of those 65 and older and any Ohioans born with or who have early childhood conditions that carried into adulthood which put them at higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. A list of those conditions can be found on Adena’s and the Ohio Department of Health’s respective websites.
During a recent day of appointment-only vaccine administrations at Adena’s PACCAR Medical Education Center in Chillicothe, that connection to other health issues was cited by Linda Cozad and Karen Butterbaugh as key reasons why they chose to be vaccinated. Butterbaugh, after praising the professionalism and ability of the caregiver administering her shot, stated that she was there because she didn’t want to “catch something and die.”
“I’m serious, because I have diabetes and asthma and I know I wouldn’t make it, especially when it affects your lungs like it does,” Butterbaugh said.
Don and Linda Cozad had different reasons for coming down together for their vaccinations – Linda due to concerns over COVID-19 in connection with her other health issues and Don because of his work around other people in a church pantry with which he’s involved – while Terry and Sheryl Morris said that concern over the seriousness of the disease and a desire to do their part to get everyone through the crisis and back to normal life drove their decision to vaccinate.
As of the middle of last week, Adena had vaccinated around 2,800 members of the general public off a list of more than 5,000 names who at that point had expressed a desire to be vaccinated since January. While the Health System has the processes in place to be able to handle more vaccinations, the limiting factor is the amount of available vaccine it is being provided.
Haynes said Adena has, on average, been receiving between 200 and 600 weekly doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered as first doses to those on the list. It also receives the appropriate number of second doses for those returning at the appointed time for those to be administered.
While vaccine availability continues to be a concern nationwide during the initial stages of the public vaccination rollout, there is reason to hope for a significant improvement heading into the spring and summer months. In early February, Moderna announced that it should have its first 100 million U.S. doses delivered by the end of March with a second 100 million in May. The U.S. government also has purchased a third batch of 100 million doses from the company. Pfizer, meanwhile, plans to have 200 million doses of its vaccine delivered as soon as May. Both vaccines require two shots spaced nearly a month apart for maximum benefit.
A third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration late last week and cleared its final hurdle over the weekend to start putting shots in arms. While availability of that single-shot vaccine will initially be limited to around 4 million doses until production is ramped up following its approval, Biden administration officials indicated Sunday that around 16 million doses may be available by the end of March.
To take advantage of the expected expanded availability, Adena officials continue to encourage residents of any age older than 16 -- regardless of whether they regularly receive care from an Adena medical provider -- to visit Adena.org/covidvaccine and fill out an online form to be added to its list of those interested in being vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved to be administered to those 16 and older while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been approved for those 18 and older. Clinical trials are currently ongoing regarding those younger than 16 so those in that age range should not be signed up for vaccinations at this time.
Haynes reiterated that Adena is following state guidelines regarding who is eligible to be vaccinated, which as of Monday were those older than 65 or those with one of the state-approved conditions. During a press conference Monday afternoon, however, Governor Mike DeWine announced a new phase 1C of eligibility beginning Thursday that will include individuals working in child care services, funeral services and law enforcement and corrections officers, as well as those with type 1 diabetes, pregnant women, bone marrow transplant recipients and those living with ALS. DeWine also said Thursday will mark the beginning of Phase 2 eligibility, meaning anyone age 60 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated. A timeline has not yet been set for future age reductions.
Toward that end, Haynes has a request for those who can’t make it to scheduled appointments.
“I would encourage anybody who is not able to make it to their scheduled appointment for whatever reason to please contact our Hotline at 740-542-SAFE (7233) to let us know because that will allow us to get somebody else scheduled,” he said.