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Poland senior: ‘I want to live’

Local pharmacy injects vaccinations

Rebecca Clarke, a pharmacist at Giant Eagle on Doral Drive in Boardman, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Carol Litty of Poland on Thursday morning at the store’s pharmacy. Receiving the shot was painless and necessary, Litty said.

BOARDMAN — In a matter of mere minutes, Carol Litty of Poland felt she had gained a new lease on life.

“It was nothing; it didn’t hurt at all,” she said after having received her first COVID-19 shot during a vaccine appointment Thursday at the Giant Eagle pharmacy, 1201 Doral Drive. “That’s why I took the shot, because I want to live.”

Litty, 83, a former teacher who also retired after having worked 38 years in the real estate business, said she called several places to make an appointment but learned that doses of the vaccine were not available. After additional efforts, however, she was finally able to be among those eligible to get immunized against the coronavirus, thanks largely to her pharmacist, she explained.

Thursday’s vaccination distribution was for those in Phase 1B, which this week is for Ohioans age 80 and older.

Those eligible also are people with severe congenital, developmental, early-onset or inherited conditions such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida, inherited metabolic disorders and severe neurological conditions. The category also includes adults and employees in K-12 schools who want to return to work or remain educating in person, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

“We are prepared to play our part in the state’s next step to vaccinate all Ohioans. We encourage our communities to appreciate the positive impact that this week will bring as thousands of Ohioans are vaccinated in a matter of days,” Victor Vercammen, Giant Eagle’s chief pandemic officer, said in a statement. The company also is working closely with county and state health officials and expects to receive additional vaccine shipments in the coming days, Vercammen noted.

Also happy to roll up his sleeve was Robert Rish, 83, who said the process was quick, painless and stress-free.

“My granddaughter called and set it up,” Rish, of Lowellville, said. “I think everybody in my family will get it.”

His wife is scheduled to receive her shot Saturday, said Rish, whose grandson works at a pharmacy in New Middletown. Even though some people remain fearful of being immunized, he was highly confident in the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, Rish continued.

The vaccine being distributed was the Moderna version, which, unlike its Pfizer counterpart, does not require being stored at an extremely low temperature, noted Fred Bencivengo, a Giant Eagle pharmacy district leader.

Shots were given in 15-minute increments as the pharmacists reviewed clients’ paperwork and confirmed they were not sick, for example, he said.

Those who were vaccinated Thursday were asked to wait 15 minutes afterward to ensure they had no adverse reactions to the injection. That protocol is in line with clinical trials and state guidelines, David Stoneman, the store’s pharmacy manager, explained.

“We do require an extra 15 minutes for their safety,” he added.

Giant Eagle’s pharmacy team was unable to confirm specifically the number of COVID-19 shots distributed during Thursday’s event, but said that several dozen were given throughout the day. Giant Eagle has an online vaccine appointment scheduling tool at www.gianteagle.com/covid. More appointments will be loaded onto the site as individual pharmacies receive additional shipments of vaccine.

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