Licking Health prepares clinics as COVID-19 vaccine eligibility opens

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Allie Sabo gets her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Licking County Health Department public health nurse Michelle Hughes. Sabo said she felt relieved and grateful to get her shot. For the occasion she wore a T-shirt with Dolly Parton on it, Parton having donated $1 million to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center to help fund research efforts for COVID-19.

NEWARK – As COVID-19 vaccine eligibility begins to open statewide, officials at Licking County Health Department are preparing to adjust their clinics.

 Last week, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine opened vaccine eligibility to all Ohioans aged 40 and older. On Monday, eligibility will open to all Ohioans aged 16 and older.

According to Licking County Health Commissioner Chad Brown, their department has been preparing for the changes by planning expanded clinic hours and by offering evening clinic hours.

“We want to make sure we can accommodate working individuals that want to receive the vaccine,” he said.

Syringes filled or soon to be filled with doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic on Monday, March 22, 2021.

Initially, Brown said their agency will monitor how appointments they’re scheduling are being filled, then add more hours as needed. So far, Brown said LCHD’s appointment slots have been filling quickly, but they’ll consider increasing hours they offer for evening appointments if they find problems filling appointments earlier in the day.

“With the expanded eligibility guidelines, we are hoping this means we will be receiving increased shipments of vaccine,” Brown said. “This will result in longer clinics for our staff with an increased number of appointments being made available. However, our staff has been quick to volunteer to work at our clinics, and we are looking forward to increasing our vaccination rates in the coming weeks.”

Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine at LCHD are made through their online scheduling system. Brown said he’s confident the online system will be able to handle the additional capacity, since they’ve worked with their vendor.

Licking County Health Department dental hygienist Helen Mengstu doses out syringes of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic on Monday, March 22, 2021 at OSU-Newark.

Licking Memorial Health Systems on Tuesday announced appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine can be scheduled through a new online scheduling system, which can be found on their website, LMHealth.org.

LMHS also established a new vaccination clinic at 1440 Granville Road in Newark, which will be open on Thursdays by appointment.

A list of vaccine providers in Licking County can be found at this link: https://lickingcohealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Licking-County-COVID-Vaccine-Providers.pdf.

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