Coronavirus vaccine providers get OK to fill open slots immediately with ages 16+, DeWine says



Coronavirus vaccine providers who have trouble filling appointments this week can open time slots to Ohioans ages 16 and older, Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday.

“While there are many places where there is a great demand for the vaccine, we do have some providers who are having a hard time filling appointments,” he said. “If a local health department or hospital is not filling all their slots this week, they may book with anyone 16 and older.”

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The state is scheduled to open vaccinations to all residents ages 16 and older next Monday, but those providers who are not filling appointments can open registration immediately to younger Ohioans.

The governor noted that this is not a change in policy but a way to fill vaccine appointments and prevent wasting doses.

DeWine added that it’s not a widespread issue and that only some of the state’s 1,300 vaccine providers needed to expand vaccine eligibility.

Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County, said a combination of factors go in to expanding eligibility.

More doses amounts of vaccine are available at not just Public Health, but all providers, particularly now that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been approved.

Another aspect is that health officials don’t know what the ultimate percentage of adults that will want to be vaccinated will be in each age group, so they don’t know when they have hit the ceiling with vaccinations.

Public Health continues to work with organizations to do targeted outreach. The Minority Outreach Vaccination Clinic still had openings as of Monday afternoon, and those appointments can be scheduled by calling at 937-225-6217.

“The main thing is to make sure all the appointments are full when we have vaccine available,” Suffoletto said.

When a car hit a pole Monday and caused a power outage, it could have disrupted a Miamisburg vaccine clinic, but the staff at the Premier Health Urgent Care on Prestige Plaza kept appointments moving as usual.

Nancy Warnock, who oversaw that clinic, said they could let as much natural light in as possible and used cellphones as flashlights in darker, windowless exam rooms. Fortunately without windows the staff had enough laptop battery charge to last as they had about 300 appointments Monday.

“The team was wonderful. The people that were waiting couldn’t have been more polite. Actually for a Monday, it was a very good morning,” Warnock said.

When asked if Ohio needs to adjust its vaccine allocation to send more doses to providers with a higher demand, DeWine said vaccine allocation is based off a formula that is 80% population and 20% poverty and social indicators.

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As of Monday, 2,822,236 people in Ohio have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 1,609,854 people have finished the vaccine.

Ohio surpassed the 1 million total case mark on Monday, with 1,001,194 cases recorded, according to the state health department.

DeWine noted the state is starting to see a plateau in daily cases reported in Ohio after a downward trend, and he noted that neighboring states are seeing an increase in variants.

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Ohio has reported 173 variant cases, including some cases from the California variant, ODH Chief Medical Office Bruce Vanderhoff said. Two weeks ago, Ohio only had 32 variant cases.

“This is not the time to throw caution to the wind,” he said.