Rural counties face additional challenges for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Coronavirus

EATON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ahead of the start of Phase 1B vaccinations next week, public health officials in the Miami Valley say they’re working to address some of the logistical challenges of getting the vaccine to people in rural areas.

Plans for vaccination clinics run by local health departments will depend, in part, on how many doses of the vaccine will be received, which will likely vary each week, according to officials.

David Anderson, director of the Preble County Emergency Management Agency, told 2 NEWS he believes rural counties have a few advantages when it comes to setting up clinics for coronavirus vaccine distribution.

“A lot of people are used to traveling like to Eaton and places like that to do their business,” Anderson said.

But they also have to overcome some challenges.

“For us, we are the only, at least at this point in time, the only provider for the COVID-19 vaccine in Preble County,” said Erik Balster, health commissioner for Preble County Public Health.

Preble County Public Health is set to receive 200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be given out next week, Balster said.

“Right now, that’s all we get, and that comes from federal resources on down through the state, and then it’s allocated based on a couple of metrics,” he said. “And obviously being a rural county, our population’s lower.”

Balster told 2 NEWS he hopes the size of the shipments grows rapidly, but it’s unclear how quickly that may happen.

In Greene County, although the public health department will not be the only provider there for the vaccine, supply is still very limited, according to Laurie Fox, spokesperson for Greene County Public Health.

“We would hate to schedule a clinic and then not have any vaccine,” Fox said. “So we kind of have to wait for the vaccine to be confirmed on delivery and then we’ll be able to schedule that.”

Officials in both counties told 2 NEWS they are working with local senior groups and other organizations to reach people who cannot leave their home.

Preble County Public Health is expected to open registration and announce details of its first vaccination clinic for Phase 1B within the next few days, Balster said.

Anyone who lives or works in Greene County and qualifies to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under Ohio’s Phase 1B should complete an online sign-up form, Fox said. Those who register will be notified of where and when they can get vaccinated.

You can also call Greene County Public Health at 937-374-5600 if you are unable to sign up online, Fox said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Video on WDTN.com

Don't Miss

Interactive Radar

More As Seen on 2 NEWS