EATON — Preble County Public Health will begin distributing approximately 200 doses of Pfizer, Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 21. The vaccines will be administered primarily to local residents aged 80 and older, according to Public Health Commissioner Erik Balster.
“We hope to hold a clinic the following Tuesday if we get more [doses], but we know for sure we’ll be doing one on Thursday,” he said said.
Those wishing to receive the vaccine should visit the website vaccinatepreble.org. The vaccine will be administered by appointment only at Residences at Eagles Point, located at 307 N. Cherry St. in Eaton.
Vaccines began being distributed to physicians, medical professionals and first responders in Preble County on Dec. 29, according to Balster.
“They’re people who deal with COVID on a front-facing basis, for either medical or emergency reasons,” he said of the “1A” group, which received approximately 300 doses of the vaccine over the course of three separate clinics during the past month.
The vaccine is administered in the form of two shots received at 3-4 week intervals, according to Balster. Future shipments of the vaccine will be administered to those 65 and older, as well as any remaining 1A residents who didn’t receive it during the first round.
Possible side effects of the vaccine could include ache or soreness in the arms and general fatigue or tiredness, according to Balster.
“That’s one of the reasons we do the clinics, so we can monitor recipients for 15 minutes after for any adverse reactions,” he said.
When those future shipments will arrive is uncertain at present, according to Balster.
“It comes down from the federal level, then the state, then to us,” he said. “Sometimes we know a day ahead of time, and if we’re lucky two days; sometimes it’s only 12 hours.”
When the vaccine will be made available to those outside specifically targeted groups is also up in the air at the moment.
“The state hasn’t given us any direction on that yet, but I would imagine they would open it up to the rest of the public,” Balster said, indicating the vaccine might continue to be administered to different groups of people based on age, with older populations likely being vaccinated first.
The vaccine has yet to be approved for patients 16 years of age or younger, according to Balster.
COVID-19 in Preble County
“We’re seeing a slight increase in overall numbers, mostly in people 65 and up,” Balster said of current local statistics for the virus. “That’s where a lot of our cases have a high percentage of hospitalization, and in the case of those 80 and up, death.”
The highest number of cases overall, meanwhile, has always been among those of “working age,” according to Balster, which he defines as between 25 and 60, though these cases typically don’t result in hospitalization or death.
Balster also addressed the prevalence of COVID-19 in Preble County’s schools.
“The schools are doing great,” he said. “That’s one area where we’re seeing a lot of positives. We’ve had some cases involving sports and extracurriculars, but as far as in-school transmission, we really haven’t seen much of that.”
Several local school districts have quarantined large numbers of staff and students over the course of the 2020-21 school year so far, though most of these events have been due to students or staff being exposed to the virus during extracurricular activities and small-group gatherings with family and friends, according to reports.
“I can’t say enough about the schools and the good work they’ve done,” Balster said.
As for protecting themselves and others from exposure to COVID-19, Preble County Public Health continues to advise residents to mask up, wash hands and disinfect high-touch surfaces frequently, stay away from large crowds, and practice social distancing.
“Six feet is still the CDC recommendation, so some estimate of that distance is going to be your best bet,” Balster said.
If distribution of the vaccine continues to go smoothly, meanwhile, Balster predicted that life could begin returning to normal over the course of the next few months.
“It depends on how successful the vaccine campaign is and how many people get vaccinated,” he said. “But my hope is that by the end of spring or beginning of summer we can get back to normal life and normal activities.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish