YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – For administrators and staff with Mercy Health, this week has been a long time coming.
Starting this week, Mercy will begin offering COVID-19 vaccinations to people in the 1B group, specifically those over the age of 80 who don’t live in a nursing home.
“At Mercy Health, we’ve been ready for this day for a long time,” said Dr. James Kravec, chief medical officer for Mercy Health Youngstown. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to vaccinate the 1B group in Ohio.”
The health system is expecting nearly 1,700 doses of the vaccine, which will be split between primary care centers in North Lima, Youngstown, Saint Elizabeth’s main campus, and its Howland facility.
Now, they are just waiting for the shipment to arrive.
“We’ve had our process ready for a while. We’ve had our locations, we’ve had our staff ready, we’ve had the process in place,” Kravec said. “I wish we could do everything faster and quicker, but it is a process.”
Patients must make appointments in advance. Walk-ins will not be accepted. Masks and social distancing will also be required.
Patients will register when they arrive and make appointments for their second dose before they receive their vaccination.
“It’s important to know that depending on the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, it’ll be a 21- or 28-day schedule for the second dose,” Kravec said.
After that, patients will be monitored for 15 minutes.
“Just to make sure there’s no problems before that patient is released to go home,” Kravec said.
Kravec says to check with your primary care physician to be sure if you are a candidate to receive the vaccine.
“The most important thing is to really check with your primary care physician to see if there are any contraindications that your primary care physician would know,” Kravec said.
Administrators say they’ve resolved most of the issues patients encountered last Friday trying to get through on Mercy’s vaccination hotline 1-866-624-0366, which is now operating weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Patients of the system who fall within the 1B guidelines can also make their appointments online through Mercy’s MyChart app.
Next week, people over 75 or those who have severe congenital health problems will be eligible to get the vaccine.
Starting February 1, people over 70 and teachers and staff in K-12 schools can get it.
People over 65 will be eligible a week later.
Vaccination distribution plans have also been finalized in Columbiana, Mahoning, and Trumbull counties.
Before this, health care providers had focused on Phase 1A, which included vaccinating frontline workers and first responders.
The Phase 1B vaccination process looks a little different in Pennsylvania. Many are still waiting to hear distribution plans.