COVID-19 Vaccines Come to the Mahoning Valley: Not Yet at YSU

A student waits in line for Youngstown State University’s free COVID-19 testing service. Photo by Jessica Stamp / The Jambar

By Jessica Stamp 

With the recent distribution of the COVID-19 vaccinations in the Mahoning Valley, the Youngstown State University community waited to see if the vaccines would be distributed to students, faculty and staff. Julie Gentile, director of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, said YSU was not going to provide vaccines for members of the YSU community in an email to the campus Jan. 29.

“The health department is not allocating any vaccines [for] our campus,” Gentile said. “So we are not going to be distributing it at this time in accordance with Gov. DeWine’s roll-out plan.”

Gentile’s email included links to the City of Youngstown and Mahoning County health departments. 

The Mahoning County Public Health department released its total immunization list in a press release Feb 5. “5,342 first doses of COVID-19 immunizations to recipients in both Phase 1A and Phase 1B and 378 second doses of COVID-19 immunizations to the same recipients,” the department said. 

Ohio is in Phase 1B of the vaccination program, which focuses on K-12 school staff and teachers. It also includes those 65-years-of-age and older as well as those with underlying health conditions. 

The Ohio Department of Health set up certain locations to distribute vaccines. Mahoning County and the City of Youngstown are using local hospitals and other clinic locations around the area. 

Though higher education students, faculty and staff are not included in Phase 1B, some members of the YSU community who qualified have already received their vaccines.

“Some of our HHS [Health and Human Services students] have signed up and gotten their vaccine through their health department, dental hygiene and nursing [majors]. Both of those groups, the faculty have been vaccinated,” Gentile said.

The office of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety is asking those associated with HHS, as well as music, theater and education students going to K-12 schools as student teachers to participate in the surveillance testing. 

“In addition to those two items, based on living location, as well as area of study, we have it open to everybody,” Gentile said. 

YSU is trying to figure out who is asymptomatic – someone exposed to COVID-19 but does not show any symptoms of the virus – by offering free onsite COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff. Testing is offered Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays 2-6 p.m. in the Presidential Suite in Kilcawley Center. Appointments are required and can be scheduled up to 72 hours in advance online at cvs.com/campustesting

“The focus of this is to reach out to anybody and everybody on campus,” Gentile said. “Some of our higher priorities would be our residential students, so those living in onsite dorms as well as campus partner properties like the [University] Edge and Enclave.” 

If anyone is interested in getting a vaccine and meets the criteria, they can pre-register online or contact a local healthcare provider. 

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