Hamilton accelerating its COVID-19 vaccination program: What to know

Hamilton Health Commissioner last week updated City Council on the city's vaccination program. PROVIDED
Hamilton Health Commissioner last week updated City Council on the city's vaccination program. PROVIDED

Hamilton is giving people vaccines to protect against COVID-19 as quickly as it can and has been ramping up immunizations using drive-through locations, Health Commissioner Kay Farrar told City Council last week.

“The city and I are committed to putting vaccines in arms. I don’t want the vaccine in the refrigerator,” Farrar said. “So if we have it, it’s going into arms.”

On Wednesday, the city immunized 426 people in four hours, and Friday, another 250-plus were vaccinated during two hours. It was the fourth week of city vaccinations, which had reached 890 people through Friday.

“Each week we’re ramping them up,” Farrar said. “The initial ones were done as a trial, to try to figure out all of our logistics and get it all down so that we had a rhythm,” she said.

Under state regulations, the city and other entities are immunizing only people 80 years and older beginning today, plus those in Phase 1A — healthcare workers and others who are regularly care for Covid-19 patients.

How to sign up

Hamilton residents can schedule a shot by going to the city’s website or Facebook page and filling out a survey. Currently, the survey allows only those 65 or older or in Phase 1A to complete the survey. People should not show up at drive-through locations unless they have been given a specific appointment, with a one-hour window of time, to do so, Farrar said. They will not receive shots without an appointment.

In order to make the vaccine available to more people, the city may provide only one dose for now while following Ohio Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules.

“Right now, our push is to get this into arms — get dose one into arms (of) as many people as we can,” especially with the very-high-risk population of people 80 and older, she said.

Two shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine produces 95 percent effectiveness in preventing illness from the pandemic, which is considered extremely good. But one shot is believed to be 90 percent effective, also very good, Farrar said. While a second shot can be given after 28 days, a second vaccination given two years after the first still has a boostering effect, she said.

“Yes, I’m looking at second doses, but for now, we’re going to push as much as we can. It’s all dependent on the supply chain,” she said.

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City employees from several departments were working every day this three-day holiday weekend scheduling people to receive their shots.

“It’s pretty awesome seeing city departments working together so closely on this,” said Brandon Saurber, a city spokesman and a leader of the effort to schedule appointments for people.

Everybody above age 80 who signs up — with or without conditions that make people more susceptible to COVID-19 sickness — is receiving shots. Younger people, even those with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, lung diseases or cardiac issues, do not yet qualify for shots.

The issuing of vaccines “brings my sprits up, because there’s that light at the end of the tunnel,” said Farrar, who has been working many late nights and weekends in the city’s efforts to trace spread of the disease and prevent further illnesses in people.

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