AKRON, Ohio — Summit County Public Health began a two-day clinic on Thursday that will vaccinate about 900 senior citizens 80 years or older.
The drive-thru clinic is part of the Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. This week, Summit County received more than 5,700 doses which are being split among several providers in more than 30 locations.
Carol Craine, 80, of Stow, was anxious to roll up her sleeve and was impressed with the organization of the clinic at the headquarters of SCPH on West Market Street.
"I want to stay healthy. I'm blessed at my age to be healthy. I'm going home and walking in the sunshine. I'm just thankful," Craine said.
Milburn Blazer, 83, and his wife, Andrea, 81, of Stow, also got the vaccine.
"I hope all these vaccines work. I think it's going to take a long time to get to the end of the tunnel," Milburn Blazer said.
The 80-plus crowd, who either scheduled appointments by phone or online, were screened for age eligibility and then answered health questions before pulling forward in their cars to get shots from a nurse, doctor, or medical assistants.
About 40 shots were given each half-hour. The clinic continues on Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for those who have appointments.
After the vaccine is administered, seniors are monitored for 15 to 30 minutes to watch for any possible side effects before heading home.
"We're happy to do it. We want to do it. We know that it is one of the only ways we're gonna get out of this," said SCPH Health Commissioner Donna Skoda.
However, Skoda pointed out that thousands of other seniors who want the vaccine are still waiting due to the slow rollout.
"It has been difficult because we have far more interest than we have vaccine," Skoda said.
Phase 1B could take longer than many health officials expected.
Summit County Public Health is expected to receive just 300 new doses next week. An additional 5,000 doses will be divided up among other providers.
However, Summit County has 23,000 people over the age of 80 and 47,000 people over the age of 65.
The rollout plan calls for dropping the age by five years each week for vaccinations. For example, people over the age of 75 could get the shot the week of January 25.
"We could be doing 1B for quite a while. It could go into the summer," Skoda said.
Still, for those who received the shot, there is a sense of relief and hope, feelings that many of the seniors have longed for since the pandemic started.
"For all this to eliminate the COVID, it will be a blessing," Craine said.
Those wanted to ask questions about scheduling vaccinations should contact Summit County's Public Health COVID-19 hotline at 330-926-5795.