JACKSON — The Jackson County Health Department (JCHD) has begun vaccinating, per Ohio and CDC guidance, select citizens in Jackson County against COVID-19, who fall under Phase 1A.

Jackson County Health Commissioner Kevin Aston told The Courier that the health department received its first shipment (200 doses) of the recently approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, Dec. 23.

Aston explained that his department received authorization that same day to begin giving the vaccine to local healthcare providers, and immunized over 50 of Jackson County’s Phase 1A citizens.

The JCHD, according to Aston, is closely following the state of Ohio and CDC guidance on priority populations who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine at each phase of the response to the virus.

The current phase is “Phase 1A”, so the populations currently eligible for the vaccine are: residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities; residents and staff at state psychiatric hospitals, mental health or substance abuse treatment facilities; residents and staff at Ohio’s Veteran’s homes; healthcare workers and support personnel who provide care to COVID patients, and; emergency Medical Services personnel including EMTs and Paramedics.

“Members of our community who are part of this phase and who are not scheduled to receive the vaccine from their employer should contact the JCHD and schedule an appointment,” stated Aston. “Proof that someone fits into this phase must be provided.”

Aston added, “The timeframe we spend in each phase only giving shots to certain people will be directly dependent on the amount of available vaccine.

We realize that vaccine supplies are limited and not everyone who wants the vaccine will be eligible during the first few phases. We’d like to thank everyone for their patience regarding the phases that the vaccine is distributed in and for your understanding that giving the limited supply of vaccine in this order will save the most lives.”

The first person to be immunized by the Jackson County Health Department was public health nurse Pat Woolum.

“The only employees at the health department that are getting the vaccine at this time are the ones responsible for giving the shots to others,” explained Aston. “Pat has set many milestones for our community during this pandemic: she was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Jackson County, she was the first dedicated Contact Tracer hired by the JCHD, and now she has become the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from the health department.”

Ms. Woolum offered the following sentiments below when asked to comment on her being the first person to receive the vaccine.

“COVID is real,” stated Woolum. “When I caught it, I was blessed that I did not become severely ill. I’ve spoken to many people who have become severely ill from it.”

Woolum said, “I’m very thankful for the vaccine! For all of us to make it through this virus, it requires sacrifices. Give up one holiday to have more holidays in the future.”

The Moderna vaccine, according to Aston, has been properly tested and has been found to be safe as well as effective at preventing coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and reinfection.

“If you’re still unsure if getting this vaccine is right for you, talk to your doctor or your other regular healthcare provider about it,” stated Aston. “Because by the time it’s your turn to get the shot, the healthcare provider that you trust to advise you about all of your health concerns has probably already gotten the vaccine themselves.”

Aston said that the staff at the Jackson County Health Department was “joyful” to be able to give the gift of immunity during the holiday season.

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