Kent State Ashtabula helps city health department with COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Members of the community near the Kent State Ashtabula campus receive their COVID-19 vaccines in the campus gymnasium. 

Olivia Futo Reporter

Locals of Ashtabula County now have access to COVID-19 vaccines because Kent State Ashtabula opened as a distribution center on Jan. 19. 

The Ashtabula City Health Department has been planning to work with the campus for years in case of an emergency mass distribution like the current pandemic, said Peggy Ducro, the co-director of nursing at the city health department. 

“The partnership certainly made it a little easier for us,” Ducro said. “Knowing that this facility was able to accommodate a large volume of people and having those plans in place ahead of time sped things up the process.”

The vaccines are administered in the campus gymnasium with tables six feet apart. Up to 50 patients can be immunized at the same time. To help facilitate the process, several Kent State nursing students assist with the patient care as well as registration and organization.

When the health department began discussions for using the campus gymnasium as a distribution site, the dean of Kent State Ashtabula, Susan Stocker, said she was happy to help.  

“It’s been going very smoothly. We provide extra help in terms of cleaning and organizing and we also provide security,” Stocker said. 

The facility at the Ashtabula campus is the only distribution site among the Kent State campuses. 

“One of the reasons the campuses have not become distribution sites is the scarcity of the vaccine itself,” Stocker said. “Other campuses certainly have spoken with their health departments already.”

The Ashtabula health department hopes to distribute vaccines every week at both the campus and a local elementary school once vaccines become more available, Ducro said. 

“The patients are reporting it has gone very smoothly,” Ducro said. “The patients are pleased. The staff is pleased. We’re pleased. Everybody’s quite happy with the way things are going.”

Olivia Futo covers regional campuses. Contact her at [email protected]