Butler County moves into next phase of coronavirus vaccine: First responders, those with disabilities

The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati receives its Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 22. The vaccine is the first of the two doses. PROVIDED

Butler County has expanded the groups receiving coronavirus vaccines after thousands have received the first of two doses and some are being injected with the second dose.

And at the end of 2020, firefighters and EMS first responders across Butler County began the inoculation process with hundreds receiving that first shot.

In some of the larger departments around the county, 75 West Chester Twp. firefighters received the vaccine, as did 46 in Hamilton (including three administration staffers), 32 in Liberty Twp., 29 in Fairfield, and 20 in Fairfield Twp. Middletown is in the process of inoculating firefighters and EMS first responders, according to the city.

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Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer said more than 50 firefighters are still able to receive the first shot of the vaccine. He said about 21 of his firefighters have been infected with COVID-19 over the past year, and while the vast majority did not acquire it while on the job, “it definitely impacts us getting service out to our citizens.”

The chief said the vaccines are important because “a lot of our firefighters were concerned.”

“They don’t want to get sick in the course of doing our job,” he said.

In addition to frontline healthcare workers at hospitals and first responders, residents and staff at nursing care facilities were also part of Phase 1A.

While Phase 1B is expected to begin in a couple of weeks, some people in that phase have begun being inoculated.

Phase 1B includes K-12 teachers and staff, those 65 years and older, and those with severe, congenital, developmental, or early onset medical disorders. Middletown inoculated the first county residents with developmental disabilities last weekend.

Middletown Health Commissioner Jackie Phillips visited residents last weekend in their homes to distribute the vaccine.

The Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities worked with the Butler County, Middletown and Hamilton health departments to get residents with developmental disabilities vaccinated.

“We are truly thankful for all the hard work our partners have done to help get these vaccines out so that people like Ray and Vickey no longer have to live in fear,” said Lisa Guliano, Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities superintendent. “The population that we serve are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

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Nearly 4,000 people in Butler County designated in Phase 1A have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by either Pfizer or Moderna. More than 3,000 people in Warren County have been inoculated.

Those with UC Health, which includes West Chester Hospital, have begun receiving the second dose of the two-part Pfizer vaccine. As of Wednesday, nearly 70 had received both doses.

Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital received 1,100 of the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine the week of Christmas, and nearly three-fourths of it has been administered, said spokeswoman Nannette Bentley.

“We anticipate scheduling second round vaccinations starting Jan. 20,” she said.

Mercy Health continues to schedule employees for vaccinations, and Bentley said they “are seeing a continued uptick in vaccination numbers as we open vaccinations to more associates.”

Premier Health’s Atrium Medical Center recently received an additional shipment of COVID-19 vaccine and are able to offer the first of the two-dose vaccine to employees at all sites and campuses that offer patient care within the network, said spokeswoman Jennifer Burcham.

“Once we have authorization from the state to administer the vaccine beyond the Phase 1A definition, we will extend to the remainder of our teams,” she said.

Atrium has inoculated more than 700 of its hospital staff thus far, and must wait until the week near the end of January before the second dose of the Moderna vaccine can be administered, Burcham said.

Kettering Health Network, which includes Fort Hamilton Hospital, is working to get the second dose of the Moderna vaccine as vaccine distribution is expanded across the hospital network, according to officials. Network staff is vaccinating workers at six sites seven days a week.

FACTS & FIGURES

Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital: 1,100 doses of the first dose of the Moderna vaccine were administered

Atrium Medical Center: More than 730 doses of the first dose of the Moderna vaccine were administered

West Chester Hospital: 975 doses of the first dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were administered. Nearly 70 of the Pfizer vaccine second doses have been administered.

The Christ Hospital: It’s uncertain how many Christ Hospital Healthcare workers from Liberty Twp. received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, but all must travel to Cincinnati to receive it. Around 3,000, or half the total hospital’s workforce, have received the first dose.

Fort Hamilton Hospital: It’s uncertain how many Fort Hamilton Hospital healthcare workers received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, but the entire Kettering Health Network has received approximately 9,300 doses with shipments starting Dec. 23.

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