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Vaccine site in Ojai

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Ojai Valley News photo by Austin Widger
Ojai Valley Community Hospital staff, as well as volunteers from local physician offices, HELP of Ojai and the Gables, train on how to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at Nordhoff High School on Feb. 19.

Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter
Headed into its third day of operation on Friday, Feb. 26, the Ojai COVID-19 vaccine site at Nordhoff High School is running smoothly, getting shots in arms of residents.
The Ojai Valley Community Hospital partnered with the Ojai Unified School District to bring the vaccine site to the Nordhoff High gym at 1401 Maricopa Highway. More than 400 people were vaccinated at the gym on Saturday, and 700 more Wednesday. 
COVID-19 vaccines are offered at the high school on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for at least the next five weeks.
To register for a vaccine in Ojai or other sites, visit the county website, www.venturacountyrecovers.org. New appointments are opened on the website for registering on Mondays at 7 a.m.
According to OVCH Chief Administrative Officer Haady Lashkari: “It’s a county clinic site. We’re really excited to be able to staff a vaccine clinic site here in the Ojai Valley. I can’t think of anything that gets a higher priority than getting our community vaccinated.”
The site is currently administering the Moderna vaccine. Those who come for their first dose of Moderna will be eligible for their second dose 28 days later.
The vaccinators themselves are mainly OVCH staff, but volunteers have also come from local physician offices, HELP of Ojai, and the Gables. 
Lashkari said: “A big part of what we’re trying to do is, we realize we have a population here in the valley that have a very difficult time getting down (out of) the valley to get healthcare services. So we really tried to work with our physician offices, as well as HELP of Ojai, to outreach with those who really have issues with transportation. I’m hoping in upcoming weeks it will really be an option for folks in the valley.”
People are prescreened outside to ensure they have an appointment. Then they go into the waiting area. Lashkari said: “Hopefully you won’t be waiting too long, because over here, where we give the actual dose literally takes only seconds. Then we have A, B, C, D (post-vaccine waiting areas). Everybody’s required, based on risk, to either wait for 15 minutes or 30 minutes. So we have four 15-minute waiting areas, and then in the back there, we have a 30-minute waiting area. Then, as you walk out, we have a selfie wall, so everybody can take a selfie that they got vaccinated at the Nordhoff High School site. Usually, after the 15-minute or 30-minute waiting period is when you get your appointment card for your next appointment.”
At the Feb. 23 Ojai City Council meeting, City Manager James Vega said: “Ojai was able to get a vaccine center here in Ojai, with several agencies all kind of working together, which is an accomplishment … Ojai Valley Community Hospital was definitely the lead on it, but I’m sure the hospital will tell you, you know, we worked with the school district to set up the site. We were advocating with the hospital in the county to make sure that there was a site in Ojai. The hospital and I both were contacting the county and reminding them that we have a heavy elderly population, and that we are fairly remote, so that we were going to have a challenge getting people outside of the valley.”
Lashkari volunteered at the vaccine site at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, so he had some experience running a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, along with fellow hospital staff. He said: “To be part of that (clinic), I can’t tell you. Working the vaccine clinic in Ventura when you see the tears in people’s eyes, and especially in this (senior) population. Many of them haven’t seen their grandkids in over a year. This signifies a lot.”

 

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