COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to expand to 941K more Ohioans

The move comes after surge and several days of vacant local vaccine appointments.

Several local COVID-19 vaccine providers over the weekend were urgently advertising hundreds of vacant appointments, though those slots are expected to fill quickly after Gov. DeWine announced Monday that about 941,000 additional Ohioans will be eligible on Thursday.

This includes people as young as 60, as well as workers with several newly eligible “1C” frontline professions like corrections workers, funeral home directors, police and firefighters, and child care providers, as well as people with type 1 diabetes, pregnant people, bone marrow transplant recipients and people with ALS.

According to DeWine, about 246,000 people are eligible under the 1C group. Phase 2, which lowers the eligible age to 60, adds about 695,000 eligible Ohioans.

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County’s spokesman Dan Suffoletto said that 93% of COVID-19 deaths were people 60 and older as well as two-thirds of hospitalizations.

“So by getting that 60 and up age group vaccinated, you’re covering a large portion of the people who are having the worse outcomes,” he said.

DeWine noted that as of Monday, multiple vaccine providers across the state still had vaccine appointments available and the open vaccine clinics and larger shipment coming to Ohio were part of the state’s reason to expand vaccinations this week. He added that additional information will come in the next few weeks about more vaccine providers and mass vaccination sites.

In the Dayton area over the weekend, Community Health Centers of Greater Dayton had urged people to sign up Friday for open weekend appointments, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County had highlighted vacancies and Premier Health on Sunday evening still had about 500 COVID-19 upcoming vaccine appointments available at its vaccine clinic at UD Arena.

However, there was an uptick in those seeking appointments once the expanded eligibility was announced. Suffoletto said most of the spots were filled after the governor’s press conference, though they still had some appointments available at the Monday minority outreach vaccination clinic and those eligible and interested can seek an appointment at 937-225-6217 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The initial weeks of vaccinations were marked by a crush of older Ohioans seeking scarce appointments, but since then supply has increased, the number of vaccine providers in the state nearly doubled and 1.69 million people in the state have received at least one dose.

As of Monday afternoon, about 14.5% of Ohioans have received one dose and about 7.8% of Ohioans both doses.

Among Ohioans who are 80 and older, which is the most vulnerable age group to death and severe disease from the coronavirus, more than 62% have at least one dose and 49% have both doses.

This includes 77,884 people in Montgomery County with at least one dose, 26,654 in Greene, 13,740 in Miami, 6,038 in Darke, 4,661 in Preble, and 34,188 in Warren.

OCSEA President Chris Mabe, whose members include correction officers in state prisons, said “making the vaccine available to all state employees in congregate settings who have the highest rate of exposure is something we’ve been supportive of since day one. This is another step to making our facilities safer during the pandemic.”

Shannon Jones, with Groundwork Ohio, which advocates for child care and other early childhood programs, noted that a high percent of child care workers are women of color so making child care workers eligible for vaccines is an equity issue.

“Our early educators, they’ve been working to keep the economy moving this entire time. They are essential workers and they take care of the kids of essential workers and it’s high time that they are protected,” Jones said.

Ohio is scheduled to receive 448,390 doses in the next few days, the most the state has ever received in a week. Of those vaccines, 96,100 are from Johnson & Johnson, which was approved for use over the weekend. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is one dose, not two.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be shipped to independent pharmacies, health departments and hospitals, DeWine said.

When asked if Ohioans should prefer one vaccine over another, Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff said that all three vaccines prevent hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

“At the end of the day we have three vaccines, all of which will keep you out of the hospital, out of the ICU and out of the morgue,” he said.

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