Taking COVID-19 vaccines to southeast Ohio
Many people may picture a mass vaccination clinic as a stadium with hundreds of vaccinators widely spaced on acres of field, ready to serve long lines of patients. At Ohio University, the COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic is a mobile clinic that travels to very small towns. It’s an effort that spans six southeast Ohio counties, comprising 18 clinics at eight sites.
In rural places, where people can be widespread and health care providers and pharmacies can be few, the ability to take health care services – including vaccinations – to the people often makes all the difference to the residents who might otherwise go without such services.
In early March, the Ohio Department of Health selected Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Community Health Programs as one of 18 mass vaccination sites in the state. In less than a month, working with the ODH, local health departments, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, we were on the road, delivering the first of these no-cost COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
The clinic at the Cutler Community Center in Washington County was among those. That day, CHP nurses administered 129 single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines to people from the Cutler, Kilvert and Belpre areas. A few came from as far away as Cleveland, but many people lived within a few miles of the Cutler Community Center.
According to Sherri Oliver, MPA, executive director of Community Health Programs, “… it’s the longtime partnerships and relationships in these communities that make this work possible. Our efforts are based on their needs, and we’re thankful that we can support southeast Ohio residents.”
"Yesterday’s clinic was successful," said Carole Merckle, MSN, RN, DTR, CDE, assistant director of Community Health Programs, of the Cutler clinic. "Folks felt good when they left. Several people sent friends, spouses and family. Those who came to the clinic were so grateful to get the vaccine and told us they felt that they needed to get the vaccine to move forward beyond COVID. Everyone who came appreciated that we were in their area."
Nurse practitioners Brittney Tschudy, Katie Fleming, and Jessica Rutter (left to right) prep for giving vaccinations at the Cutler Community Center.
Sherri Oliver (center left), executive director of Community Health Programs and Area Health Education, helps manage logistics for the mobile clinic vaccinations.
A medic from the National Guard preps documentation at the mobile vaccination site in Cutler, Ohio.
Heather De La Vega, one of three medics from the National Guard, was on site to assist with vaccine distribution.
Nurse practitioner Katie Fleming prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the Cutler Ohio Community Center.
Nurse practitioner Katie Fleming gives a patient a COVID-19 vaccine at the Cutler Ohio Community Center.
Nurse practitioner Jessica Rutter hands a patient a vaccination card after giving him a COVID-19 vaccine.
Citizens from small towns across southeast Ohio have received the COVID-19 vaccine from Ohio University's mobile health clinic.