Athens City-County Health Department

The Athens City-County Health Department. File art.

The Athens City-County Health Department on Wednesday began administering COVID-19 vaccines to EMS workers and select congregate care facilities at a point of dispensing clinic (POD) located at the Athens Community Center.

The health department on Monday received 500 total doses of the Moderna vaccine, 190 of which were immediately given to Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare, a psychiatric hospital for mentally ill adults in southeast Ohio, health department Administrator Jack Pepper said in an emailed statement.

“We are pleased that the vaccine has arrived in Athens County and are looking forward to getting it quickly dispensed to the highest priority groups as identified by the Ohio Department of Health,” he said.

Local health departments are primarily tasked by the state with vaccinating EMS responders and health care workers who aren’t necessarily on the frontline, including dentists and hospice workers.

Athens County EMS employs 66 people who are all eligible to receive the vaccine.

The health department is also responsible for inoculating residents and staff of long-term care facilities that aren’t enrolled in the federal government’s plan to vaccinate them though CVS Health or Walgreens, which both began immunizations on Monday all across the country, including in Athens County.

Pepper expects to hold dozens more POC clinics but can’t say for sure when they might be because of the short vaccine supply.

“Vaccine allocation is very tight at this time and will continue that way until vaccine production and procurement are maximized,” he said.

Moderna’s vaccine was granted emergency use authorization last Friday by the Food and Drug Administration and has been shown to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19-related illness in patients.

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