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Ohio County COVID-19 Vaccinaton Clinic To Remain at Former Michaels Store at The Highlands

File Photo by Scott McCloskey A COVID-19 vaccination site will remain at the former Michaels at The Highlands.

The site of the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department’s vaccine clinic at The Highlands was in flux for a minute, but the clinic will remain in place at the building which once hosted Michaels into the winter.

Health Administrator Howard Gamble said Friday that the health department had been in talks with the Ohio County Development Authority about relocating in the Highlands, as the Michael’s building was going to be used for another retail purpose. Before boxes could start being moved, though, Gamble said that deal fell through.

“The development authority was working with a retail to occupy the old Michael’s, which was just fine with us,” Gamble said. “It was a brand-new retail, and we were kind of excited. That’s great. But within a matter of 10 hours, it had fallen through. The county had advised us that we can return and occupy Michael’s, at least until January 2022, for our booster program if and when it gets off the ground.

Gamble said the news that the clinic can remain at Michael’s was a small sigh of relief, as not only are their supplies and tables still set up there, but the former craft store has a surplus of storage space that the new store wouldn’t have, meaning they can store more materials on-site. In particular, Gamble said there are numerous boxes of personal protective equipment

“Not only are our tables, chairs, wiring still there, there are multiple palettes of PPE in the storeroom, and that’s PPE for us to distribute to the community, businesses or operations that need gloves, gowns, masks, etc.,” Gamble said. “We’re back at Michael’s for this moment, but we, like everybody else, are just waiting for the green light from the federal level.”

The health department is distributing third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for severely immunocompromised people, currently available at the health department building at 1500 Chapline Street.

A booster shot, which is administered to those who have already received the vaccine but whose immune response may have waned with time, was recommended Friday by an FDA panel for those ages 65 and older.

“A lot of vaccines have boosters, because over the years, when they develop the vaccine, they realize the percent effectiveness waned, was not strong enough for the general population, and therefore we’re going to have a booster,” Gamble said. “… A booster’s job is to provide an additional level of immunity to an individual who’s already vaccinated.”

A booster shot reaffirms protection against the original disease, rather than adding specific protection against any given variant, Gamble said. The increased protection against the baseline is meant to provide a wide array of protection against variants.

“The hope is, if you get enough people vaccinated for the original COVID virus, any strain that’s part of the COVID virus, if it develops, will be covered with the original vaccine. To give a new vaccine, like what we do with flu shots, we add, (for example) H1N6, H4N3, and that’s a whole different process, those are the strains that are more common.

“This is the same vaccine, same makeup, in hopes that you can control it enough to manage cases, and you won’t have strains or variants develop because not enough people are vaccinated,” he added.

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