Nearly 10,200 Fulton County residents have received at least their first inoculation against COVID-19, but the process to vaccinate all eligible residents who want the shot is expected to last the next couple months.
As of March 15, the county’s health department has distributed about 5,200 first and second doses of the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to people in the 50 and above age categories and to frontline health workers and those with eligible medical conditions. Fulton County Health Center has given about 3,000 doses of both first and second shots.
The two entities have combined efforts, along with the Wauseon Fire Department and community volunteers at a vaccine center created at the Fulton County Fairgrounds Jr. Fair Building. A video on the Fulton County Health Department’s Facebook page takes viewers step-by-step through the process.
During the week of March 15 alone, the health department and health center distributed a combined 1,617 vaccines. Cupp said as the supply builds so will the opportunities for being vaccinated.
Residents are also receiving the vaccine through certified pharmacies and private physician offices.
“The number of providers and availability of vaccine is increasing. The health department and health center will continue to provide vaccines as long as there continues to be a need,” Fulton County Health Commissioner Kim Cupp said.
Eligible residents can register at fultoncountyhealthdept.com, after which they’ll be contacted by telephone or mail with an appointment date and time. At the fairgrounds building they will fill out a screening form before visiting one of several vaccination stations to review their answers with a nurse.
Following their vaccination, individuals are asked to remain in an observation station for 15 minutes to ensure they have no adverse reaction to the vaccine. Those with pre-existing conditions may be asked to remain for 30 minutes.
Cupp acknowledged that some people have reacted adversely to the vaccine but the reactions have varied in intensity. Most experience a milder local reaction, while others can endure a systemic reaction that causes fever. Cupp said allergic – or anaphylactic – reactions are the least frequent to occur, and severe negative reactions are rare.
Some systemic reactions can be complicated by fainting due to sudden drops in heart rate and blood pressure or a temporary loss of consciousness. Cupp said those reactions after vaccination are more common with adolescents and young adults.
She said increased vaccine supplies in Ohio have resulted in more inoculations among the the state’s population, including Fulton County, but “there is still work to be done. I encourage all residents who are eligible to get vaccinated.”
Diana Szymanski, a pharmacist for the Kroger store in Swanton, said the pharmacy has inoculated 60 people a day against COVID-19 for the past two weeks. The pharmacy uses the Moderna vaccine, which was first issued to people 80 and over, and is now given to those 40 and over.
“We’re booked solid every day,” Szymanski said.
The Moderna vaccine requires two shots given 28 days apart, and an appointment is necessary. Szymanski estimates the Kroger location on East Airport Highway has administered over 1,000 inoculations.
She said vaccine symptoms can include fever, arm pain, and swelling, “but it varies, depending on the person. To my knowledge, I’ve not heard of any severe reactions.” But while no one has suffered a bad reaction at the store, people who receive a shot are asked to remain under observation for 15 minutes .
Appointments are available at the Kroger location from an hour prior to the store’s opening to about 4:30-5 p.m. Beginning March 29, vaccines will be available to anyone over 16 years of age.
As of Monday, vaccinated county residents include 75% of those age 80 and older, 72% of those age 75-79, and 70% of those age 70-74. Cupp said it’s important for younger residents to be vaccinated as they become eligible.
“Vaccination is an important step for our community to end the pandemic and reduce the threat presented by COVID-19,” she said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2020.