Loveland, Ohio – “Many things are still in flux. We are on daily morning briefings with the Health Department and Homeland Security officials. Many of the questions you have asked are being ironed out at this time,” said Loveland/Symmes Fire Chief Otto Huber.

Loveland Magazine asked both Huber and Loveland Police Chief Sean Rahe several questions yesterday as local delivery of a COVID 19 vaccine approaches. Chief Huber responded on behalf of both department chiefs.

Loveland/Symmes Fire Chief Otto Huber speaking at Loveland’s 9/11 ceremony in September.

First responders will be in Phase 1 of Ohio’s vaccine distribution plan along with high-risk healthcare workers, and seniors living in congregate settings (i.e. nursing homes).

Ohio Capital Journal reported on Tuesday that Federal regulators could allow two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use as early as December, but getting the vaccines from out-of-state manufacturers to 11.7 million Ohioans poses a web of logistical challenges.

The Ohio Department of Health has identified 10 sites across the state that will receive the pre-positioned vaccine after a COVID-19 vaccine is given emergency-use authorization. Once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issues its recommendation on how to use the vaccine, these sites will begin administering the vaccine immediately to those who choose to receive it and are identified as able to receive it in the first stage.

The ten pre-positioned sites were selected based on geography, population, and access to ultra-cold storage capacity. The University of Cincinnati Hospital Medical Center in Clifton is the Cincinnati area site.

The Chiefs were asked if they have established any policy about their employees receiving the vaccine when it becomes available and if officers and firefighters will be required to be vaccinated. The chiefs were also asked whether they will be vaccinated. Huber said, “We will be providing the opportunity for our staff to receive vaccines as they are offered.”

Huber also said, “At this point, we will be leaning on our Medical Director Dr. Policastro for guidance. We hope to have a plan finalized with the Health Department very soon. Keeping our staff safe so that we can safely provide service to our residents is our highest  priority.”

Loveland Magazine also asked if there was anything that can be shared about plans for distribution in the City of Loveland or Symmes Township when a vaccine is available to the general public and whether local Kroger stores are the designated point of distribution for area residents when the vaccine is universally available. “Loveland and Symmes are both points of distribution however we do not know yet if they will choose to open those PODS,” said Huber.

Under the draft issued by the Statehouse that was released on October 28, Ohio would implement a 4-phase approach to distributing the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available.

A summary of the phases are as follows:

Phase 1 – High-risk healthcare workers, first responders, seniors living in congregate settings (i.e. nursing homes)

Phase 2 – Public health workers, teachers and school employees, homeless individuals, prison workers and inmates, persons with mental health in group homes or institutions, and individuals with a medical condition putting them at greater risk of mortality due to COVID-19

Phase 3 – Students, young adults, children, and individuals in high risk occupations

Phase 4 – Universal availability

You can read the complete draft: ODH Draft COVID-19 Plan that was released on October 28.

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