Ohio has seen a gradual increase in the number of people each day starting a new COVID-19 vaccination in recent weeks after slowing last month.
On Aug. 6, more than 13,600 new vaccine starts were reported. A month prior closer to 3,700 were started a day. As of Thursday, more than 50 percent of Ohioans — more than 5.88 million people total — had started their shots.
Health workers say there are some different reasons that could be driving the increase.
Some of the rise can be attributed to the Delta variant, with people realizing how contagious it is and that it is causing more serious sickness in many, Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County.
More people also have seen their friends and loved ones get vaccinated without experiencing any severe effects, he said.
“Some people were waiting to see how the national rollout of the vaccine took place and after millions of people getting successfully vaccinated, they have now determined the time is right for them to get vaccinated,” Suffoletto said.
The two-dose vaccines, which are most commonly given out, take five to six weeks to complete and be fully effective. This means it will take time before the protection of increased vaccines could start to impact the state case and hospitalization numbers.
Part of the increase in vaccinations includes an uptick in people covered by Medicaid getting a shot.
The Dayton Daily News reported in late May that Ohio Medicaid members were more likely than the general population to report masking and social distancing, but were half as likely to have a COVID-19 vaccine.
The DeWine administration then charged the insurers who manage those members Medicaid benefits to do more to help.
Ohio has since seen a 57% increase in Medicaid members 18 and older who have completed vaccination, Ohio Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran said. As of Aug. 8, 804,286 members have been fully vaccinated or had their first shot, with 37,213 starting in the past two weeks.
“These are promising signs for Ohio,” Corcoran said.
Medicaid members can get $100 for getting a vaccine. This was pitched as a way to offset barriers such as trouble getting to a vaccine site or no paid sick time off in case of side effects.
This uptick in vaccinations varies community to community, with some areas seeing more of an increase than others.
Miami County Public Health is hopeful that school beginning soon will encourage more people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and children who aren’t eligible yet, said Vicky Knisley-Henry, with Miami County Public Health. Appointments can be made at 937-573-3218 or 937-573-3520.
“With cooler temperatures right around the corner, everyone will move inside. So we need to make sure we are all doing everything we can to stay safe and not spread COVID,” she said. “We have extremely effective tools to help us do that. Vaccines are the most effective tool, but we can also wear a mask or facial covering when indoors and maintain proper social distancing.”
The increase also comes as many hospitals and nursing homes are starting to require vaccines, though the number of daily shots was climbing before most of the large hospitals issued mandates.
Some people protested the requirements Wednesday. Dr. Steven Burdette of Miami Valley Hospital and Wright State University said during a state news conference that vaccine requirements aren’t new for health care workers, citing requirements for Hepatitis B and influenza shots.
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