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Miami community anticipates vaccination as Ohio increases eligibility

<p>Though Ohioans aged 50 and older became eligible for vaccination, many still waited in line for hours in hopes of getting leftovers. </p>

Though Ohioans aged 50 and older became eligible for vaccination, many still waited in line for hours in hopes of getting leftovers.

The line stretched from the front door of Talawanda Middle School all the way across the parking lot on Wednesday morning, March 17, five days after Ohioans aged 50 and older became eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 in phase 2B of the state’s plan.

Eligible patients can make appointments with Primary Health Solutions (PHS) to be vaccinated at the middle school, but they weren’t the ones waiting out in the fog on Wednesday. People lined up as early as 9:30 a.m. in hopes of receiving leftover doses of the vaccine when the site finished administering to people with appointments.

Some brought chairs and blankets from their homes to withstand the cold, settling in with books and friends to pass the time. A few groups ordered pizza or had friends deliver food as the wait stretched into the afternoon.

Among those hoping to receive an extra vaccine was Bethany Skaff, a Miami alumna from Columbus. 

Skaff, 33, said she wasn’t letting herself get her hopes up, sticking to the “patient mindset” she had adopted about getting a vaccine but still let her mind wander to life after vaccination.

“I’m mostly eager to travel,” Skaff said. “I think that’s probably my goal — to feel more comfortable going into the world.”

She admitted planning a vacation for May, reflecting the same anticipation that brought all her linemates too.

But for Skaff and the rest of the line, which included Miami students, professors and local residents, patience would have to endure — no vaccines were administered to anyone waiting in line on Wednesday, save for a few nearest the eligible age range.

PHS, the Butler and Montgomery county-based healthcare provider running the vaccination site, says on its website that an appointment is necessary to receive a vaccine.

Some, like geology and environmental earth sciences graduate student Schelin Ireland, were able to make appointments without meeting the state’s eligibility guidelines. She received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday by appointment despite being younger than the state’s age range and not having any other health risks.

Ireland is unsure why Primary’s website allowed her to make an appointment.

“I was just able to,” she said.

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A statement on PHS’s vaccine process can be found on their website. 

Eileen Mack was one beneficiary of the state’s latest phase. The 53-year-old Hamilton resident and former Miami parent walked past the line at Talawanda and received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine, saying she was excited to start on the path to immunity.

“I want to get back to normal,” Mack said.

More Miami professors are eligible, too. Sacha DeVroomen Bellman, 56, a journalism instructor, got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 15. She drove one hour from her home in the Cincinnati area.

“It was so worth it,” Bellman said.

After starting the vaccination process she said she feels “more hopeful than anything.”

“[Getting vaccinated] feels really good, especially because I am in the classroom,” said Bellman, who scheduled her second dose for April.

Bellman said she’s looking forward to safer interaction with students in her 21st year of instruction and dining safely in public restaurants.

Ohio moved into phase 2C of vaccine rollout on Friday, March 19, extending eligibility to residents aged 40 and older and those with certain health conditions.