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County vaccination complex ready at fairgrounds

County Health Commissioner Wes Vins answers questions from inside the new Columbiana County Vaccination Complex completed at the county fairgrounds just in time to begin drive-through vaccinations for those 80 and older, a population who may have problems walking into a facility during the winter months in order to receive the vaccine. (Photo by Deanne Johnson)

LISBON — The Columbiana County COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force announced the completion of the new Columbiana County Vaccination Complex at the fairgrounds, built in less than four months and just in time to begin the next phase of vaccinations, those 80 and older.

The building, which was built using CARES Act money with additional funding from the county’s general fund, was touted as the ideal place for those to come who do not have the physical ability to walk into another location. Additionally, it will be the only location in Columbiana County not to require preregistration.

“I would like the community to know that Columbiana County is ready,” said Health Commissioner Wes Vins. “There is limited supply of vaccine, but we have the capacity that exceeds the vaccine that we have been allocated.”

Vins said there are currently 13 locations registered to be able to administer the vaccine when they become available. Currently, Vins said the county is completing the vaccination of all the health care workers and group homes. Between 2,000 and 3,000 vaccines are expected to be available next week, when the county can begin vaccinating those 80 and older.

Through this crisis, Vins said he believes Columbiana County has become an even stronger community, adding it is amazing to see what a community can do when it works together, including the new facility at the fairgrounds.

County Commissioner Tim Weigle credited Yarian Brothers Contracting, which did the subgrade and foundation as well, John Hoover’s We Cover It, the contractor for the hoop top of the building. Total cost was about $85,000. Vins said it will be used for flu vaccines when this ends.

Laura Fauss, public information officer for the health department, who will serve as the operations chief for the vaccine clinics at the fairgrounds, explained when people arrive for the clinic at the fairgrounds they should enter from Lee Avenue, which is the main entrance. Vehicles should travel through the middle of the track and loop back down the track in front of the grandstands before making another turn down the midway to the building.

In the event of snow, Weigle said arrangements have been made for the county engineer’s office to clean the snow from driving areas in the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds provide room for about 200 cars to wait.

Once the vehicles reach the new building, paperwork will be handed out to be completed and those being vaccinated are asked to provide identification proving they are age 80 or older.

Up to 12 vehicles can enter the building at the same time, then the doors can be closed. Large turbo heaters will be lit to warm the building. Those receiving the vaccine are asked to wear something that comfortably allows them to roll up their sleeve.

The vaccines will be given right in the vehicle without the need to get out for those with mobility issues. Once the four teams of vaccinators have completed their work, the doors will open and the vehicles will be directed around the corner of the building. There, people trained to spot any complications will watch patients in their vehicles for 15 minutes.

Jamie Elenz, the nurse practitioner and epidemiologist for the health department, said they will be looking for anyone having trouble breathing, hives or generally feeling unwell. Emergency medicine will be on hand and there will be EMTs on stand-by.

Vaccines will also be available at clinics and pharmacies throughout the county starting next week for those 80 and older only. Those attending will be required to preregister, prove their age and in some cases may be required to present a copy of insurance or Medicare B card, which could be billed for the cost of administering the vaccine. There is no cost for the vaccine itself.

Preregistration for the clinic at East Liverpool City Hospital is being held today and Monday, Jan. 18. The remaining registrations begin next week. A complete list of where and how to register will run in the weekend edition of The Review, can be found on the county health department’s website at columbiana-health.org or by dialing 211.

Columbiana County has had 6,931 cases of coronavirus since the first case was found on March 20.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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