COVID-19 vaccinations are slow but ongoing as supplies are limited across the country.
Jim Watkins, Williams County health commissioner, said this lack of supply is making it difficult to do much planning.
“We only (can plan for) a particular week,” he said. “We are starting to look at (vaccinating) our 80-plus population, beginning next week.”
This section of the population is part of Phase 1B of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s vaccine rollout plan. This phase also includes K-12 teachers, people with certain severe medical disorders and anyone 65 years old or older, though he said priority would be given to citizens 80 years old or older.
DeWine announced last week that these people will be eligible for the vaccine starting Jan. 19.
Watkins said in Williams County people 80 years old or older can register to get the vaccine. Details of how to register will be released soon.
“I will caution that this week we are receiving 100 doses,” he said. “The supply of vaccine across the country, across the state and here in Williams County is very limited. There is much, much higher demand than there is supply of vaccine. It just does not exist.”
While the county asks for “a lot” of vaccine, it only gets 100 doses a week, with Watkins saying the vaccine was “overpromised, underdelivered.”
He was unsure when production and supply would be increased.
“That’s what makes it very difficult,” he said. “We have done estimations of how many people we can move through clinics, we have estimations of our population 80 years of age and older, we have estimations on the amount of school personnel that will wish to be vaccinated. We have all the numbers. We have plans. We don’t have vaccine.
“We can run all the numbers we want, but it’s like I can drive my car across the country, but if I have one tank of gas, it doesn’t matter what I plan after that,” he continued.
According to censusdata.org, 5% of Williams County’s total population of 36,816 is 80 years old or older, or around 1,800 people. At the current rate, it would take the Williams County Health Department 18 weeks to vaccinate all of them, if they were the only people getting vaccinated.
To reach herd immunity, about 60-70% of the population (roughly 22,000-25,700) would need to be vaccinated. If only 100 people can be vaccinated a week, it would take four to five years to reach herd immunity.
Despite limitations on vaccine availability, Watkins said his department is using every dose they receive, as they receive it.
He said they got their first 100 doses three weeks ago, so the health department has given the first of two doses of the vaccine to 300 people.
However, according to state data, 613 people in Williams County have received the first shot as of Monday.
Watkins said this discrepancy can be attributed to problematic software.
“We’re reporting into a system that the state has that is 20 years old, so it has trouble understanding how much vaccine has been given,” he said. “What you see in the media that there’s vaccine that’s not getting out, that’s not good numbers, necessarily. The software is 20 years old that we are reporting into at the state level. That’s lack of investment by the state.”
As of Monday, There have been 2,586 total documented COVID-19 cases in Williams County, resulting in 129 hospitalizations and 57 deaths.
There are 2,117 people who are presumed to have recovered.
Statewide, there have been 784,957 total cases documented, resulting in 41,377 hospitalizations and 9,702 deaths.
There are 639,080 people who are presumed to have recovered.