Butler County officials say at least 20% of population immune to COVID-19

Since COVID-19 vaccination efforts ramped up about 40,000 Butler County residents have gotten a shot in the arm, and including people who have already had the coronavirus, about 20% of the county’s population is immune.

Butler County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said about 10% of the 384,000 county residents have been inoculated, and another 9% have reported having the virus, although they know there are unreported positive cases.

“If you look at those numbers at least 20% of Butler County citizens are immune to getting COVID and that’s a very large number,” Carpenter said. “Our health commissioners are very pleased with this.”

She added all of the school personnel who wanted shots have gotten them, “that allotment that was going to the schools can now go to the health commissioners, so we should be vaccinating more of the general public.”

There have been 34,548 positive COVID-19 cases, 452 deaths and 1,058 hospitalizations reported in Butler County since the pandemic began last March, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Gov. Mike DeWine has been directing who can receive vaccines. He made nursing homes and other fragile populations a priority, and the available population has continued to expand. Now people 65 and older are eligible. Vaccines are only available by appointment.

Matt Haverkos, director of the county Emergency Management Agency, said the 40,000 number includes not just people who have gone to clinics put on by the county health district and health departments, but also appointments at Kroger pharmacies and other locations.

Liberty Twp. Trustee Christine Matacic got her first dose a week ago and she said it was nerve-racking trying to get an appointment. She was checking 30 to 40 different Kroger stores daily once she became eligible, because as soon as one had an opening it was filled almost immediately. She ended up going to a store in Finneytown.

“Trying to get an appointment was more stressful than what I’ve put up with this past year with the COVID,” Matacic said. “It was like four or five days I was starting to bounce off the walls a little bit.”

Haverkos said there are about 50 locations in the county registered to dispense vaccines but only around 20 have been receiving doses. Haverkos said residents who have filled out the health department surveys will get notified when they are eligible and where they can find a vaccination site. But it is “first come first served” with very limited supply.

“That’s the way the governor wants to do this, it’s so decentralized. When we say hey there’s a Kroger in Oxford, they have less than 100 doses,” Haverkos said. “When you have less than 100 doses they go pretty quick.”

The link to the Butler County General Health District registration form is: www.surveymonkey.com/r/BCGHDVaccinationSurveyCOVID19

The county health district and Hamilton’s health department have been holding large scale clinics at the fairground several times a week. Commissioner T.C. Rogers mentioned he saw a complaint on Facebook that there have been long lines to get in. Haverkos said it is taking “30 minutes or less.”

“There are no back-ups, if there’s a line it’s because there is registration time,” Haverkos said adding some people are getting there an hour before their appointed time — which is unnecessary — so it could appear like there is a bottleneck.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working on setting up regional mass vaccination clinics which could dispense 6,000 shots a day. Haverkos said plans are not firm but one location near Butler County could be the Wilmington Airport.

Matacic said she is anxious to get her second dose in a couple weeks.

“I’m the kind of person I like to hug people, people are good people and they need to feel that warmth, we’re not getting it right now,” she said. “That is what I like forward to, the day I can give my kids a hug, I can give my friends a hug and I don’t have to worry.”

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