YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – If you’ve noticed it getting easier to set up an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you’re not alone, and it is about to get even easier.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine made a surprising admission Monday. After weeks of concern over not having enough vaccines to meet demand, some parts of the state have plenty on hand.
“In Youngstown, we found 23 providers within 10 miles that had vaccines available,” DeWine said.
In fact, we’ve learned there are still appointments available for Wednesday’s drive-through clinic in Lisbon. This, as both Columbiana County and Mercy Health, are due to receive their very first shipments of the newly approved vaccine from Johnson and Johnson, and the state prepares to move into category 1C.
“The concern that I’ve heard, and I understand is, that have we have finished the 1B yet? And then, how do we know what groups into IC next?” Said Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health.
Kravec said wait times to make appointments have reduced significantly in recent weeks. Still, when Mercy Health receives its 900 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the healthcare system will open two additional shot clinics – one in Austintown and the other in Liberty.
“We will have six vaccine clinics that we will be running across the Mahoning Valley. Just really anticipating an increased amount of vaccine distribution,” Kravec said.
To date, 14,000 people have been vaccinated through Mercy Health, Kravec said. Half of them receiving both of the required doses. And while numbers of new cases and hospitalizations are dropping, people still need to be vigilant.
“We can’t ramp down on our public health measures, of the social distancing and hygiene and mask wearing. Those are still essential,” Kravec said.
Kravec believes those measures, ultimately, will be more responsible than even the vaccines for slowing the spread of COVID-19.