MASSILLON, Ohio (WJW) — Employees at Massillon Washington High School were administered their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday, a week earlier than expected.
The Massillon City Health Department has been scheduling appointments six days a week at its vaccination clinic.
Appointments are taken by phone and those 80 and above are currently given priority. But, Massillon Health Commissioner Terri Argent says with limited staff there is currently a waitlist of about 700.
“We have been averaging getting in about 100 vaccines a week and unfortunately we have around 400 phone calls a week, so we have been taking a waiting list of course,” said Argent.
While all of the appointments from the general public are being held as scheduled, Argent says the health department had enough from an earlier allotment and were able to use about 135 doses to begin administering them at the high school on Monday, while the school was closed because of weather.
“We did the high school teachers but we also did the administration employees and bus drivers. We pretty much got everybody in that’s connected with the high school,” said Argent.
Argent says the state sends allotments of the vaccine intended for the schools according to the numbers the school districts say they need. The first delivery of the vaccine for schools in Stark County is not expected until later this week or over the weekend.
Though the doses given to the Washington High School Staff were allocated for the general public, Argent says no one in the general public who requested one and scheduled an appointment was denied a vaccine to prioritize the school.
“We actually just had enough left just for the high school. We had enough left just for them and we will make up as our vaccines come in for the schools. We will make up those doses for the public.” she said.
The district expects to receive additional doses of the vaccine in the coming days and plans to begin administering doses to employees at other city schools starting next week.
“We are only able to do so many a week because of the number of nurses that we have and the staff. As the vaccines come in the ones that go to the schools will go to the schools and the ones set aside will go to the public,” said Argent.
The Massillon Health Department, meanwhile, continues to take appointments by phone and schedule them as quickly as they can.
Additional vaccines are available through the county health department, as well as pharmacies.
Argent says if someone in Massillon is able to get one earlier through another source she encourages them to do so.
In the meantime, the city health department continues to take reservations and schedule appointments. Argent urges anyone who wants a vaccine to call.