Wednesday, April 7th, 2021
Mercer County to cease drive-thru clinics
By Leslie Gartrell
CELINA - Mercer County Health District officials on Tuesday announced the district likely will cease its weekly drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinics due to a decline in demand.
Today's clinic at the fairgrounds likely will be the final drive-thru clinic for first-dose COVID-19 vaccine, according to a health district news release. It's the first clinic held by the health district open to Ohioans age 18 and older since eligibility expanded on March 29.
Health administrator Jason Menchhofer on Tuesday night said officials have seen a steady decline in vaccine demand as eligibility has expanded. Of the 400 doses the district received for today's clinic, only 260 had been reserved by Tuesday evening, leaving roughly a third unclaimed.
That's in addition the nearly 500 doses left over from other clinics, Menchhofer said. The excess doses led officials to skip requesting additional doses for next week. The limited demand also led officials to cancel another first-dose clinic that had been set for April 14.
The health district will continue to hold drive-thru clinics for people to receive their second dose of vaccine through May 7, according to the release.
The drive-thru clinics take a significant amount of time, resources and manpower to operate, so continuing the large-scale clinics with dwindling demand doesn't make sense at this time, Menchhofer said.
"We're not against doing the clinics," he said. "But it doesn't make great use of our staff, volunteers or time."
Nearly 25% of Mercer County residents have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Ohio Department of Health about 10,163 Mercer County residents have had at least one dose.
Approximately 77% of Mercer County residents ages 75-79 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, as well as roughly 72% of residents age 80 and older and nearly 72% of residents ages 70-74.
Menchhofer said the decline in demand could be due to increased vaccine accessibility from other providers.
Many pharmacies in the area are receiving regular shipments of the vaccine, which wasn't the case when vaccines first were shipped in December.
COVID-19 vaccine providers in the area include the health district in Celina; Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater; Schwieterman pharmacies; Kroger in St. Marys; Kaup Pharmacy in Fort Recovery; CVS in Celina; Walmart in Celina and Wapakoneta; the Auglaize County Health Department in Wapakoneta; Wapakoneta Primary Care; St. Marys-based Grand Lake Health System; and Lima Memorial Hospital. Regional COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics also are available Wednesdays through Saturdays in Lima through Allen County Public Health.
People also may be opting for the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine instead of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Menchhofer said.
Anecdotally, younger residents don't seem as concerned or interested in getting vaccinated, he added.
Menchhofer said the health district will adapt according to demand, and residents who want to get vaccinated are encouraged to do so. In the meantime, officials will shift their focus toward getting information to the county's Marshallese and Latino populations and work with area businesses to vaccinate employees on-site.
Officials in Tuesday's news release reported 11 new cases of the virus since their last report on Thursday, raising Mercer County's cumulative total to 3,950.
They also reported one active hospitalization, a cumulative 738 probable cases, 3,806 people who have recovered, 84 deaths and 19 probable deaths from COVID-19. Of the overall cases, 22 are active.
In Auglaize County, officials in a county health department news release reported 13 new confirmed cases since Thursday, raising that county's cumulative case count to 3,479.
Officials also reported a cumulative 1,147 probable cases, 178 hospitalizations, 62 deaths and 4,478 people who are presumed to have recovered.
As of Tuesday night, ODH reported a cumulative 1,028,800 confirmed and probable cases, 53,561 hospitalizations and 18,741 Ohio resident deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Ohio cases 1,028,800
Ohio deaths 18,741
Mercer County cases 3,950
Mercer County deaths 84
Auglaize County cases 3,479
Auglaize County deaths 62