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Carroll County Health Commissioner Dr. Wendy Gotschall (seated) receives the county’s first COVID-19 vaccination from Julie Halfhill, RN, at the county health department Dec. 28.

Vaccination begins with health care workers, private physicians, EMS staff

By Carol McIntire


The first shipment of 100 COVID-19 vaccines  allocated for Carroll County arrived at the county health department Dec. 22.

Department officials began administering the vaccine Dec. 28, the same day an additional 100 doses arrived.

The first to receive the vaccine was Dr. Wendy Gotschall, Carroll County health commissioner, who urged county residents to do the same.

“It’s important for people to do their due diligence and look at the information pertaining to the vaccine and not rely on social media to make their decision to get the vaccine or not get it,” Gotschall said.

“I am confident in the vaccine,” she said, adding she had a sore arm for about a day and then it was gone. “I’ve had no other side effects. Some may have side effects, but that is normal, because it is your immune system kicking in.”

The county received the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses.

Gotschall reminded residents of the importance of receiving the second dose to receive maximum immunity.

“The second dose should be administered 28 days after the first dose. There is a couple days leeway on either side of that day. Health department officials will help schedule the second shot so it falls within the parameters,” Gotschall explained.

The 10 persons who received vaccines the first day, along with Gotschall, included local physicians W. Scott Stine, Steve Stasiak and Joni Stasiak; Ken Joseph, paramedic and owner of EMT ambulance; and Sheriff Deputy Sean Mullen. Personnel from long-term care facilities, public health and the county jail were also vaccinated the first day.

Who gets the vaccine first?

Due to the limited supplies, the Centers for Disease Control and Ohio Department of Health provided guidance for a phased distribution approach based upon those who are at the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 and those who are at the greatest risk of severe illness or death.

Those in Phase 1A of the Ohio Vaccination program include: any healthcare worker in the county if they do not already have a source for the vaccine (CVS/Walgreens, or through the hospital system). This includes but is not limited to: private physician practices (non-affiliated with hospital systems), EMS providers, private pharmacy staff, outpatient clinics, home healthcare and hospice staff and public health staff.

Individuals who fit into the Phase 1A Tier will receive a vaccination by scheduling an appointment with the health department by calling 330-627-4866, ext. 1561.

Individuals must present a form of ID from their place of employment that qualifies them as eligible. Vaccinations will be administered in the upper-level clinic or on-site, if the site has more than five individuals to vaccinate.

Residents and staff at long term care facilities will be vaccinated if they are not signed up to get vaccine through the Federal CVS/Walgreens program. This includes direct care providers, staff employed by the facility and residents.

Vaccinations will be provided on-site for congregate facilities, including group homes serving the developmentally disabled and the jails. These include residents and inmates, staff providing services or care for the residents/inmates and all staff working in the facilities. Facilities with the current highest case rate will be prioritized to receive vaccination first.

Kelly Engelhart, director of nursing at the health district, noted in a presentation to county commissioners Dec. 31, the county hopes to move to phase 1B, which includes persons over 65 years of age, those recently diagnosed with compromising diseases and adults in school settings.

“In Ohio Phase 1B is different from the CDC suggests,” said Engelhart. “The goal is to get kids back to school for face-to-face learning, so teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff – everyone involved in the school setting – will be vaccinated.”

Plans are to vaccinate at long term care facilities and group homes this week and planning is underway to work with schools to conduct on-site vaccinations and how to vaccinate those over 65 years of age.

“Vaccination is what’s going to change the course of this pandemic,” Engelhart stated. “Things that are in place before are not working. People who are leery of the vaccination need to know it is 95 percent effective after two doses. If we want to see change, I urge everyone to get the vaccine when it is available. We need vaccination levels to be about 80 percent to stop the virus from spreading.”

Contact the Carroll County General Health District at 330-627-4866 ext. 1530 or visit the website at www.carroll-lhd.org to learn more about services offered.

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