‘Hope is on the way': Hamilton County prepares to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 11:47 AM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 20:20:13-05

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio — Emergency Management Agency officials have installed multiple cooler and freezer units in preparation for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking in a briefing on Wednesday, Nick Crossley, director of Hamilton County EMA, said crews have installed two walk-in coolers and a walk-in freezer at a warehouse facility in order to properly store the vaccine.

Vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna must be kept extremely cold. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Crossley said two "ultra" freezer units will be installed shortly in order to store that specific vaccine.

Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said county officials expect to receive the first round of vaccines in the coming weeks. Healthcare workers and those living and working in nursing homes will be vaccinated first.

The state’s plan includes hospital systems receiving the vaccine on or around Dec. 15, Kesterman said. The state is also partnering with Walgreens/CVS pharmacies to help vaccinate people living and working in long-term care facilities.

Additional vaccines are anticipated weekly, Kesterman said. By the second week, Hamilton County Public Health expects to be able to vaccinate frontline workers, including first responders.

Phase two is dedicated to vaccinating essential workers: Teachers, childcare workers, police officers, firefighters and grocery store employees, to name a few, Kesterman said. Kesterman said he expects guidance from the federal government to determine who is considered an essential worker.

“With each vaccination, we will slowly begin to end this pandemic,” Kesterman said. “We are clearly a long way off, but hope is on the way.”

There are 800,000 residents across four health districts in Hamilton County, Crossley said. He said he expects people will be able to receive the vaccine in a clinic setting as well as via a drive-thru option.

Kesterman said his team is working on developing a software to allow people to make appointments to be vaccinated.

“I think a lot has to do with how much vaccine is available at any given moment in time,” Kesterman said. “If we just get a few hundred doses, that would look different than if we get a few thousand doses each week. So as those numbers become more concrete, that will further adjust our plans.”