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Health departments preparing for vaccine rollout

Health officials in Mahoning and Trumbull counties are preparing for local distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, but there are still many uncertainties.

Also, because of the time it will take for the state to receive enough doses to vaccinate most Ohioans, the end of mask wearing and social distancing is not yet on the horizon.

“The doses will trickle down, but we are nowhere near ready to be done with mask wearing, social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions,” said James Pantalone, an official with Trumbull County’s emergency operation center and Howland fire chief. “It will take time, even after the doses are coming in and we are vaccinating at full swing.”

Pantalone said local officials are “not just sitting back,” though information is still rolling in. “We’re being aggressive, pursuing all of our options and planning for everything and anything.”

It’s truly a day at a time issue, he said.

“There are a lot of questions still being answered every day. But we are flexible and fluid, and because of good planning able to implement plans on short notice,” Pantalone said. “It has been challenging to plan for, but I am encouraged overall when I see what is going on across the nation with the massive distribution process and the undertaking. It is absolutely phenomenal, the feats being made are amazing.”

Ryan Tekac, Mahoning County health commissioner, and Sandra Swann, director of nursing for the Trumbull County Combined Health District, said both health departments have performed mass vaccination planning exercises, and are well-prepared to handle this vaccine.

Read more in Sunday’s Vindicator.

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