As 2021 gets off to a rocky start, we want to assure our senior population that we are still here. The staff of the O’Neill Center is working hard, thinking outside the box and coming up with new ways to reach our friends so that they can remain Healthy, Independent and Productive (H.I.P).
In the New Year, we will return to in-person activities and continue to add new programs. Our Activities Coordinator, Hannah Grahame, has joined our team and brought with her an incredible enthusiasm and wealth of ideas. Movies in the center, massages, crafts, special programs with our partners, and much more are being offered with limited seating.
And as we learned in 2020, many of our seniors prefer interacting from the comfort of their own homes. We’ve got you covered on that, too. Virtual programming will continue via our Zoom channel. From Cooking Club to yoga to tap dancing, we offer something for everyone. We have also partnered with We Thrive Together to offer more programming to help reduce social isolation and loneliness in our community. Some of the virtual activities include card games, trivia, line dancing and virtual trips to exciting places in the world. Now we know it’s not the same as getting together in person with friends, but, as we learned in 2020, this year will be about learning new ways to communicate and interact safely, until we can see COVID-19 in our rearview mirrors.
Speaking of COVID-19, help is certainly on the way. The state of Ohio has rolled out its multi-phasic program to get the vaccine into arms of high-risk populations, including first responders and health care workers.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, Phase 1B will specifically include those below who choose to be vaccinated:
- Ohioans, age 65 and up.
- Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders that make them particularly vulnerable.
- Adults/employees in all schools that want to go back, or to remain, educating in person.
Vaccinations in Phase 1B were expected to begin the week of January 19. Governor Mike DeWine announced a tiered system for offering vaccinations to the estimated 2.2 million people who are eligible for the vaccine under this phase, beginning with those who are 80 or older. When a new age group begins, vaccinations may not be complete for the previous age group. It will take a number of weeks to distribute all of the vaccine given the limited doses available. The week of Jan. 25, vaccines will be offered to Ohioans 75 years of age and older and those with severe congenital or developmental disorders. The week of Feb. 1, it will be offered to Ohioans 70 years of age and older and employees of K-12 schools that wish to remain or return to in-person or hybrid models. The week of Feb. 8, vaccines will be given Ohioans 65 years of age and older.
We understand you probably have many questions regarding the vaccine rollout. Anne Goon, Health Commissioner with the Marietta/Belpre Health Department, has provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below. You can also find this information in a blog post on our website, http://oneillcenter.com.
Q. Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccinations in Washington County?
A. You will be able to choose among several approved COVID-19 vaccine providers. Each provider will get a VERY limited supply each week and must comply with social distancing and safety requirements (for example, you must sit and wait at least 15 minutes after getting your shot before you can leave). Appointments will likely be required by all providers. Providers include:
- Giant Eagle Pharmacy
- Kroger’s Pharmacies in Marietta and Belpre
- Marietta/Belpre Health Department
- Memorial Health System
- Washington County Health Department
Each location has their own method for scheduling an appointment. For example, Kroger’s is using a call center while Washington County Health Department is offering online registration, which can be found on their website and Facebook page.
- Marietta/Belpre Health Department is offering appointments each week in Marietta and Belpre. Please call 1-866-395-1588 to schedule an appointment. This number can be called between 9 am and 7 pm, Monday through Saturday.
Q. Will there be enough COVID-19 vaccine for everyone?
A. Yes, there will eventually be enough COVID-19 vaccine for everyone who wants it. However, supplies are very limited right now, so Ohio has prioritized those at greatest risk to get vaccinated first. Healthcare providers and nursing home residents are some of the people at very high risk, so they are in Phase 1A. Seniors aged 65 and older are in Phase 1B, because state data shows that the older you are, you are at greater risk of severe illness or death if you contract COVID-19.
However, it’s very important to realize that it will take several months (probably 8-9 weeks) to have enough vaccine for everyone in Phase 1B that wants it. So it is vital that you continue to stay home except when you need medical care, groceries, and prescriptions (if you can’t have them delivered or picked up through a drive-through window). Avoid gatherings of people you don’t live with, wear a mask when around others, and wash your hands frequently.
As always, you can also contact the O’Neill Center with concerns or questions. We will do our best to steer you in the right direction. Remember that we do provide transportation to and from medical appointments, including vaccinations. Call 740-373-3914 with any questions regarding transportation.
We also want to hear from you to see how we can better serve you. Look for a survey to go out to our email recipients and on social media sometime in February and in our March newsletter. If you do not receive our emails, you can sign up at https://oneillcenter.com/newsletter-sign-up/. It is our goal to also establish a texting program to enable us to reach out in the case of emergency, scheduling changes, special events, and more. So look for information on how you can sign up to receive texts from the O’Neill Center very soon. And in the meantime, join us in the center or online to take advantage of all we have to offer seniors in 2021!
Erin O’Neill is Development Coordinator for The O’Neill Center, located at 333 Fourth St. in Marietta.