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Some Switzerland of Ohio schools students to receive COVID vaccines

WOODSFIELD — Only around 20 students in the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District have opted to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The county recently received a shipment of approximately 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine — the only vaccine currently approved for 16- and 17-year-olds. Although the Monroe County Health Department was hoping for a larger response, officials said they are happy to vaccinate those eligible students who signed up earlier this week.

Administrator Linda Masters said students from Beallsville, Monroe Central and River high schools who submitted parental consent forms will receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine today at their respective schools. Nurses will then return to the high schools in three weeks to administer the students’ second doses.

“It’s a small interest. … We only had about 20 students take advantage of it,” she said. “It was offered to every school in the district. We tried to get the information out to all the parents. It was a pretty quick turnaround.”

Due to the low amount of interest among students in the district, Master said they have partnered with Belmont County and Noble County health departments, who will take the remaining unused doses and offer them to students in the counties.

“We can’t hold on to it (vaccines), so we transferred the remaining doses to Belmont and Noble (counties),” she added.

Masters said the department kept 36 doses, in case additional students decide to receive the shot; 60 doses were given to Belmont County and 24 doses were given to Noble County.

In the coming weeks, Masters said the health department will begin transitioning its drive-through vaccine clinics from the fairgrounds to its office in Woodsfield.

“We’re finishing up our second dose drive-through clinics next week. We’re taking appointments here at the health department; (we’re) trying to transition locations. We can handle the smaller numbers here at the department,” she said.

A decrease in vaccine interest in the county has prompted the health department to move the clinics to the health department, as staff will no longer require such a large area to conduct the clinics. Moving forward, the health department will provide first doses out of the health department headquarters. Those interested in scheduling an appointment to receive the vaccine can call the health department at 740-472-4299.

“We’re trying to simplify it a little bit since there’s fewer people interested. It doesn’t take as much staff, and we can do it here more efficiently and not take everyone out of the office,” she said.

Masters said the department has Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines available. She said staff will resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine now that Gov. Mike DeWine approved its continued use in Ohio.

Masters said the county’s cases have been declining over the past few weeks.

“We’re not seeing a whole lot of new cases. We’ve gotten a few over the last week, but it’s been pretty low numbers. Hopefully it stays that way,” she said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, Monroe County has a total of 1,299 cases, 1,243 recoveries, 41 deaths and has 15 active cases. As of Thursday, Monroe and Harrison counties remained at risk Level 2, or orange, on the four-tiered Ohio Public Health Advisory System, while Belmont and Jefferson counties remained the more serious at Level 3, or red.

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