Vaccines coming to Ohio college campuses, workplaces

Jeff Cooper, health commissioner for Public Health Dayton Montgomery County, talks with Ohio governor Mike DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine at the Dayton Convention Center Thursday, April 1, 2021. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Jeff Cooper, health commissioner for Public Health Dayton Montgomery County, talks with Ohio governor Mike DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine at the Dayton Convention Center Thursday, April 1, 2021. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

COVID-19 vaccine will be coming directly to more Ohioans with upcoming college campus clinics and workplace vaccine clinics.

Almost 3.5 million Ohioans have received at least one dose, including more than 70% of those 70 and older. But the current major sources, such as mass vaccination sites, are a better fit for motivated and mobile people.

Starting next week, Ohio will begin offering vaccines on campus at public and private universities and colleges. State officials hope this will help students receive vaccines before colleges and universities go on summer break and disperse into the community.

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“While fewer of our young people get sick from COVID, the evidence shows they are significant carriers,” Gov. Mike DeWine said, speaking Thursday at the mass vaccination center at the Dayton Convention Center.

Most of the vaccines heading to college campuses will be the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is only one dose.

“By offering vaccinations on college campuses we believe more students will opt to get the vaccine and they’ll get it with their peers,” the governor said.

University of Dayton officials said the school is an enrolled vaccine provider in the state and will release information about providing shots once it is available.

The state also will begin working with businesses, labor unions and other organizations to vaccinate employees at work locations. Starting April 12, vaccine providers in Ohio will be able to use 25% of their doses to vaccinate their own employees.

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“We think this will increase the percentage of those who choose to be vaccinated,” DeWine said.

The governor noted that while the state will always aim to vaccinate its most vulnerable residents, Ohio has “an obligation and an imperative to vaccinate people as quickly as we can and to increase the vaccination rate.”

As the state gets more COVID vaccines, areas with a spike in cases may see an increase in shipments, DeWine said.

The governor expressed concerns Thursday as Ohio continues to see an increase in COVID cases, particularly cases stemming from more contagious variants.

Ohio reported 2,475 cases Thursday, making it the third day in the past week that the state has recorded more than 2,000 daily cases. Over the past few weeks, the state was leveling off around 1,500 cases a day. As of Thursday, Ohio’s 21-day average is 1,672 cases a day.

As of March 12, the state reported 92 variant cases. As of Tuesday, the CDC reported 310 variant cases detected in Ohio. On Thursday, that number had increased to 620 variant cases.

“We are in fact seeing increased COVID activity here in Ohio,” ODH Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff said.

Ohio officials have also been monitoring cases in neighboring states, particularly in Michigan, which has the second highest number of variant cases in the country. While all areas of Ohio are seeing an increase in cases, the state’s northern border with Michigan is seeing more activity

More than 1,000 people with coronavirus were hospitalized in Ohio as of Thursday, according to ODH. It’s the first time in more than two weeks that the number of hospitalized COVID patients surpassed 1,000.

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The governor toured the regional mass coronavirus vaccination site at the Dayton Convention Center on Thursday and held his COVID press conference from the convention center.

Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County is the state’s local partner and has been vaccinating people from the center since December.

Public Health is scheduled to administer 1,700 second doses Thursday and 1,200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines. In total, Public Health has administered more than 52,000 COVID vaccines.

“As a health department and a board of health, we have said we’re going to make sure that least 25% of the vaccine received is made available to our minority populations,” county Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said. “So we’ve been working with our minority churches, we’re looking at homebound populations, we’re in congregate care locations, just making sure that we’re promoting equity around vaccine distribution.”

Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County is streamlining its signup system. Instead of having people make an Eventbrite appointment and then also fill out registration, going forward those who are interested in registering for a COVID vaccine can sign up at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov starting Friday.

Public Health’s call center also will continue to help people register at 937-225-6217.