Rural pharmacies in Ohio get first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine

The rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine started Tuesday.
Updated: Mar. 2, 2021 at 8:09 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Right now more than 96,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are being shipped out across Ohio.

About 200 smaller, independent pharmacies will be getting the Covid-19 shots for the first time.

19 News found this could increase access to the vaccine, especially in rural areas.

We found a local pharmacy that received its first shipment of the J&J vaccine Tuesday afternoon.

They’re looking forward to getting more people vaccinated in their small town.

Medi-Wise Pharmacy in Newcomerstown, Tuscarawas County.
Medi-Wise Pharmacy in Newcomerstown, Tuscarawas County.(Medi-Wise Pharmacy)

They waited for months to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Medi-Wise Pharmacy in Newcomerstown, a small village in Tuscarawas County with a population of just under 4,000 people.

“So yes, very much excitement, but it’s a nervous anticipation. It really is,” said Jeff Neidig, owner and pharmacist-in-charge of the independent pharmacy.

Shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine are finally here.

“So we’re ready to go, get shots in arms today,” Neidig said.

Medi-Wise Pharmacy received 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

They have about 150 people on their waitlist.

Everyone pretty much knows everyone here, and they’re a trusted source in the community.

“They’re calling us, asking us about our opinion, and, of course, we want them to get a vaccine. They’re all trusted, safe ways to improve our immunity and protect us from the disease,” Neidig said.

They’ve been waiting for the vaccine to come in since they signed up at the end of last year.

They didn’t know which one they would get or when.

So they prepared, reading through guidelines and figuring out how they would administer it.

Medi-Wise Pharmacy received 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Medi-Wise Pharmacy received 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.(Medi-Wise Pharmacy)

We asked whether the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is easier for smaller or rural pharmacies to handle.

“I think we would be ready for any vaccine,” Neidig said.

But, he said, there are many positives to this vaccine. Since just one shot is needed, and you refrigerate it, there’s no freezer necessary for storage.

“So it’s more comfortable that way, I think, for big or small. And you don’t have that second dose to worry about supply coming in,” Neidig said.

Neidig thinks the J&J vaccine will be more appealing to a lot of the people his pharmacy serves.

“I think it’s going to be a lot easier for people to accept that, the one shot, in rural areas. Transportation’s an issue. So yeah, the one shot is so much better that way,” he said.

Pharmacies like Medi-Wise will find out weekly how many doses they’re getting in and what day they’ll arrive.

Then they’ll start making phone calls to book people on their wait lists.

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