CIRCLEVILLE — This time last year, the ways of life in Ohio were interrupted by a pandemic, which subsequently, the shutdown changed most aspects of life across the globe. Now with vaccinations taking place, the hope for a new normal may be on the horizon, but some questions are still up in the air.
According to Bailey Karmie, public information officer with Pickaway County Public Health, the local health department received its first shipment of vaccines on Dec. 22 last year, and just in time for the jolliest holiday of all.
Shortly after arriving in Pickaway County, the health department quickly started distributing doses just a day later.
“We began planning for the distribution months before in coordination with the Pickaway County EMA,” Karmie told The Circleville Herald. “It took us a few weeks to start finding our groove and what set up worked the best for us, whether it was drive-thru or walk-in.”
Karmie, also the emergency preparedness coordinator, added that, “There was moments of trial and error when we were initially disturbing doses to community residents and [the department] was still adapting with each clinic that we did.”
Since late December of last year, Pickaway County Public Health has administered well over 10,000 COVID-19 vaccinations. The total number of doses given includes vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer, along with Johnson & Johnson.
There are more vaccine providers in Pickaway County other than just the health department with data being shared publicly from those sites weekly on pickawaypublichealth.org. As of now, other vaccinations sites include Kroger, Circleville and Ashville Apothecary, OhioHealth Berger, Schiebers Pharmacy and PrimaryOne Health.
So far, the Moderna vaccine has been the most popular in the county among the trio that’s out on the market now. Karmie noted that Moderna is highly sought after because, simply, it’s the one that is most available.
“Also, people have heard of their friends or family receiving the Moderna, which then leads to them wishing to receive that vaccine as well,” Karmie detailed.
For some, the wait for things to resume as they were before the pandemic cannot come fast enough. In order to get back there, more vaccinations must take place.
“The quickest way to get back to life as usual is to maximize the number of people vaccinated, which is why it is important for people to receive it,” Karmie explained.
“It is critical to convince those individuals who may still have questions or doubts about the vaccine to receive it. All three vaccine products that are currently available are safe and effective at preventing a serious illness that can result in death.”
From the health department’s perspective, the state will need to accomplish herd immunity in order to hinder the continuous spread of COVID-19. Universally, if herd immunity is achieved, then things will start looking normal again.
“From our perspective, herd immunity will be accomplished in Pickaway County when we reach 75 to 85 percent of our population vaccinated,” Karmie noted. “This is the same standard for Ohio, as well as nationally in the United States.”
When it comes to the vaccines themselves, the scientific breakthrough of these vaccines is a sight to behold, according to Karmie. In the past, it would take several years before a proper vaccine can be used in public settings. Medical professionals in the county are grateful to be included in this historic breakthrough in medicine.
“It has been incredible to see the medical field come together to produce these vaccinations for COVID-19,” Karmie commented. “This sets a new standard for vaccine production moving forward. It has been a great experience to be a partnered in the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccines and we were honored to be included in this part of history.”
When it’s all said and done, and when herd immunity is fully achieved, the future may still be uncertain with COVID-19. While vaccinations may help in the spreading, medical professionals are still wondering about the long-lasting effects that may still be prevalent in society.
“It is still unsure what the future will look like in the sense of having to receive additional COVID-19 vaccines or ‘booster’ shots,” Karmie said. “But, every day that more people receive the vaccine, we are been getting closer to going back to a ‘normal’ lifestyle as a result of less cases and hospitalizations.”
Vaccinations are still taking place in the county and individuals can still schedule appointments with the local health department, as well as wherever vaccines are also distributed.
“PCPH is so thankful to have had such a great response from the community as we distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. We are very fortunate to have incredible support from the Pickaway County MRC volunteers,” Karmie said.
“They show up every day ready to serve the community. We have appreciated the support from the Circleville AMVETS, the Commercial Point Men’s Club and the Pickaway County Fair Board for allowing us to use their facilities for vaccination sites. The outpouring of support from other organizations has been incredible and we cannot express our gratitude enough, this process would have never come together this smoothly and efficiently without the community efforts we have received.”