EATON — On Thursday, Feb. 25 and Friday, Feb. 26, Preble County Public Health held vaccination clinics at Eagles Point, formerly Eaton High School, for all school districts within Preble County.
On Friday, the health district was in the process of wrapping up the two-day process of getting vaccines to the school employees who wanted to be vaccinated, according to PCPH Commissioner Erik Balster.
“So that’s basically any staff or faculty that are front-facing the students or interacting with students or are involved with the transportation of students, for example, bus drivers, special caregivers and things like that, that are involved with the ESC and some of our more sensitive populations,” Balster said on Friday. “This is their first dose of the two-dose Moderna series.”
Balster said on Thursday 266 vaccinations were given between primarily Eaton Community Schools and Preble Shawnee Local Schools. He said they were projected to vaccinate 276 more from the remaining districts — National Trail, Tri-County North and Twin Valley Community Local Schools — on Friday, for a total of 542 individuals from Preble County schools.
A survey done before the vaccinations were scheduled had about 676 people projected being interested in receiving the vaccination.
There is a variety of reasons why people may have canceled, Balster said.
“If you were recently sick, or if you have COVID now, or you were vaccinated somewhere else within the last two weeks,” he added.
“I think we’re probably in the 60 percent or higher range, if I had to guess,” Balster said of the number of Preble County school staff members who took advantage of the vaccination clinics.
Preble County’s vaccinations for school districts were pushed back a week due to the snowstorm which hampered the delivery schedule across the state.
Immunizing the staff is just one more additional way to keep students in school.
Preble County’s school districts have done well in keeping students in the classroom, according to Balster.
“I think our schools have done an outstanding job really, from the very beginning. We started as soon as schools basically shut down formal classes last spring meeting with the superintendents on a bi-weekly or almost monthly basis.
“We were really thinking of what we could do to keep kids in school even before there were any mandates or guidelines set forth by the governor, and a lot of the things that we’re doing and we were planning back then, pretty much came into the governor’s plan,” he added. “I think having realistic expectations was probably the best thing we had going for us. The second thing was the mask mandate helped. At least a tool for us — to justify being in class — as a preventative measure. I think it has been effective.
“Overall, in the schools we’ve had really low numbers in cases. Quarantines have gone down significantly as a result as well. And we’ve been able to keep kids in school.”
Preble County’s school districts have done a great job adhering to the guidelines, Balster added.
According to Balster, the state health department has indicated health departments will be receiving larger quantities of the vaccine, and the hope is to be able to open the opportunity up to more and more people. Emergency use authorization expected for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well as other providers being able to vaccinate will help as well.
“We hope we can give everybody who wants an opportunity to be vaccinated that chance,” Balster said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr