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City set to protect 225 today

COVID-19 vaccinations to be given to those who have preregistered

YOUNGSTOWN — The city today is expected to vaccinate against COVID-19 about 225 people who are at least 80 years old.

Health Commissioner Erin Bishop told city council Wednesday that about 85 people in that age group had been vaccinated Tuesday and Wednesday. About 225 will be vaccinated today, 175 Friday and a handful on Saturday.

The vaccinations are given at the Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center, 903 Otis St.

The city received 500 first-dose vaccines this week for those who are 80 and older. The state ordered vaccines for that age group to start this week.

Starting Monday, those at least 75 years old can get the vaccine.

“It’s been crazy getting people registered,” Bishop said.

Those eligible for the vaccination in the city are asked to register online at covid19.youngstownohio.gov and click on the vaccine request form.

Some people have had trouble registering on the website, Bishop said, probably because of high volume.

“We ask for people’s patience,” she said.

The city will get additional doses next week.

Also Wednesday, council approved legislation to move to a self-insured health care policy beginning Feb. 1.

The city has used Anthem BlueCross BlueShield for its health insurance but decided to self-insure, expecting to save money in the process, Kyle Miasek, interim finance director, said.

The amount of the savings won’t be known until the yearly contract is up, Miasek said.

United Healthcare will serve as the city’s insurance third-party administrator. United is charging the city $143,676 in an administrator’s fee, but agreed to give a $100,000 rebate back to the city by the end of the year.

By being self-insured, the city will no longer be required to pay a 1.4 percent state insurance premium tax, he said. The city pays about $10 million annually in premiums so the savings will be about $140,000, Miasek said.

About 650 city workers who get health insurance from the city, Miasek said. The city pays 90 percent of the premiums while employees pay 10 percent.

The city went to a self-insure policy for dental and vision coverage about a year ago.

Meanwhile, council approved the purchase Wednesday of a new garbage truck for up to $360,000.

The city has nine sanitation trucks that it bought five years ago when it went to a self-run garbage service.

The trucks are “getting beat up” from constant use, said Michael Durkin, blight remediation and code enforcement superintendent.

If the city has the money, it will buy a new sanitation truck every year or so, he said.

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