650,000 Ohioans vaccinated by New Year? ‘We’re in a big hurry about it,’ DeWine says.



By the end of December, Ohio expects to have received and administered roughly 659,000 doses of the two new coronavirus vaccinations, according to a tentative schedule detailed by Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday.

The first people to be immunized will likely be health care workers, emergency medical technicians, and residents and staff in nursing homes, assisted living centers and other congregate living settings.

Based on initial information from the federal government, DeWine gave the following timetable for doses arriving from Pfizer and Moderna:

  • Dec. 15 - 98,000 from Pfizer
  • Dec. 22 - 201,000 from Moderna
  • Dec. 22 - 123,000 from Pfizer
  • Dec. 23 - 148,000 from Pfizer and 89,000 from Moderna

“Our goal is to get this out just as quickly as we can,” DeWine said. “We’re in a big hurry about it.”

By mid-January, those who received the first shot will be scheduled to receive their second dose of the vaccine. It is unclear when Ohioans who don’t fall into the first priority groups will be allowed to get the vaccine.

DeWine said he’ll take the vaccine as soon as his group is eligible.

Doses will be distributed directly from the manufacturers to 10 Ohio hospitals, including Springfield Regional Medical Center.

The Ohio Department of Health Receipt, Store and Stage warehouse is also preparing to receive shipments, which staff will then repackage into smaller units to be distributed to public health departments and doctors’ offices that need 100 or fewer doses. The RSS warehouse has ultracold freezers that can each hold up to 720,000 doses.

CVS and Walgreens pharmacies will receive hundreds of thousands of doses sent to Ohio and will be immunizing staff and residents in nursing homes, DeWine said.

Side effects of the shots include sore arm, headache and fatigue for about 24 hours, said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo of OhioHealth, a hospital company based in Columbus. Those symptoms indicate the body is developing immunity protection from the coronavirus, he said.

ODH and Ohio National Guard staff have been running practice drills to be ready to repackage the vaccine and pack it in dry ice within two minutes and then deliver the shipments to providers within six hours.

A panel of experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to make the first doses available to health care workers and nursing home residents.

Moderna and Pfizer were the first two pharmaceutical companies to ask the federal Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization to deploy their coronavirus vaccines. The FDA is expected to debate Pfizer’s request on Dec. 10 and Moderna’s request on Dec 17.

Friday was the deadline for states to submit requests for doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Ohio Department of Health on Friday reported 10,114 new cases, 5,092 hospitalizations and 129 deaths statewide. ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Ohioans exposed to COVID-positive people can self-quarantine for seven days if they get a negative COVID test or 10 days if they don’t have a test.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.