Coronavirus: 61% of Ohio nursing homes receive vaccine; 2nd doses to start Friday

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

Pharmacies have administered coronavirus vaccines at 61% of Ohio’s nursing homes as of Sunday, with residents and staff to start receiving their second doses starting Friday.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses of the vaccine.

“Those who didn’t choose to receive a dose in the first round can get their first dose then,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “Afterward, it could be a while before there is another chance for the vaccine.”

On average 75-80% of residents have opted to receive the vaccine, but only approximately 40% of staff have, he said.

Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy said common concerns among those turning down the vaccine are side effects, worries that the vaccine is too new, safety and effectiveness concerns, fears that the vaccine will give them coronavirus and worries about vaccines in general.

She said she hopes concerns will be temporary and that health officials can replace the hesitation with confidence.

Ohio plans to start vaccinating Phase 1B against coronavirus in the approximately two weeks, including residents ages 65 and older, those with severe medical issues and staff at K-12 schools

The phase includes about 2,211,000 Ohioans, DeWine said.

“In the next few days we will make it very clear where people can get a vaccine,” DeWine said.

The state plans to utilize drive-thrus, fairgrounds and individual health care systems to get the vaccine out. More than 1,600 health care providers have signed up to serve as potential locations to distribute the vaccine, he added.

“The challenge is how do you make sure none of it is wasted, that you get just the right amount to all 88 counties and you have yo continue to do that and repeat that every week,” the governor said.

He noted that with limited vaccine supplies, it will take awhile before some people who are eligible for the vaccine to receive it.

Phase 1A, which consists of health care workers, residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities, first responders and others, will continue as Phase 1B starts.

“It would appear that roughly 100,000 [vaccines] will be available...unless that speeds up it we’re going to be a long time going through [phases] 1A and 1B,” DeWine said.

The state’s test positivity rate is starting to climb again, and hospitalizations are climbing as well, Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Bruce Vanderhoff said.

As of Tuesday, Ohio has 4,446 coronavirus patients in the hospital, according to ODH. It is the fifth-straight day hospitalizations have increased.

“Our COVID hospitalizations on Nov. 1 were around 1,500 and just 650 Oct. 1,” he said. “So we’re three times the hospitalizations we saw in November and almost seven times where we were in October.”

Ohio reported 538 hospitalizations attributed to coronavirus Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 39,650.

“When our hospitals are confronted with this kind of volume, we’ve long had mechanisms in place to ensure that every patient gets the care they need when they need it,” Vanderhoff said. “Even if a given hospital is strained.”

On Monday, Columbus hospitals issued a city-wide emergency patient diversion. As a result, hospitals, EMS, police and fire crews have to work together to make sure patients make it to a hospital that is best able to take new patients, Vanderhoff said.

He noted that patients are still able to get emergency care at Columbus hospitals, but if an ER patient needs to be admitted, they might have to be transferred to a different facility.

“All of this illustrates that our hospitals are extremely busy coming out of the holidays, and we’ve not even begun to see whether there will be an additional impact from our holiday week,” Vanderhoff said.

In southwest Ohio, 1,249 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized, with 293 patients in ICUs and 232 on ventilators.

Coronavirus patients account for 17.33% of the region’s hospital beds and 25.75% of ICU beds.

There were 44 ICU admissions reported Tuesday in Ohio, for a total of 6,022 recorded during the pandemic.

Cases increased by 7,580 for a total of 735,003.

Ohio recorded 104 deaths, bringing the total to 9,247.

A mutated version of coronavirus could lead to more cases, hospitalizations and deaths, said Vanderhoff.

The UK variant, which has already been confirmed in the U.S., appears to be more contagious, but not more severe, he said. It also doesn’t appear to impact those already immune.

“The new variant doesn’t change what we have to do,” Vanerhoff said. “It just underlines the importance of what we have asked of every Ohioan. Wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid large crowds and when it’s your turn, get the vaccine.”

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