Coronavirus: Ohio plans vaccine distribution for school staff, more details to come

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

The Ohio Department of Health and Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration are working with K-12 schools to determine how vaccination will take place.

As of Tuesday, 96% of the state’s public schools are committed to returning hybrid or full in-person education by March 1, the governor said.

Under Phase 1B, staff at schools set to return to some form on in-person education will be able to receive the coronavirus vaccine beginning Feb. 1.

Schools are being partnered with a local educational service center, which will share and confirm final plans with districts this week.

“School districts are choosing either a retail pharmacy partner, secured by the state, or an existing local partnership to administer the vaccines,” DeWine said.

The distribution for school staff will typically be in closed clinics, so personnel will not be competing with seniors and others in Phase 1B.

More information about vaccinations for school staff will be available next week.

Ohioans with a developmental or intellectual disability and a severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorder will be eligible to be vaccinated against coronavirus starting Jan. 25.

DeWine released a list of medical conditions that will qualify individuals for the vaccine, including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, sickle cell anemia, severe lung disease, severe type 1 diabetes and others.

“For those persons with an intellectual or developmental disability and one of these conditions, their local county developmental disabilities board will reach out to them to help coordinate receipt of the vaccination,” DeWine said.

The list was determined using the CDC’s list of pediatric medical conditions, said Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

“We focused on those conditions that persist into young adulthood and have strong evidence of risk,” he said. “Those on this list that also have these disabilities appear to have the greatest risk within this group.”

Starting Feb. 15, anyone with those medical conditions who does not have an intellectual or developmental disorder will be able to be vaccinated.

Vanderhoff noted that the vaccines are not pediatric vaccines and will not be administered to children. In accordance with CDC guidelines, the Pfizer vaccine is only for people ages 16 and older and Moderna vaccine for those 18 and older.

Vaccinations for Ohioans ages 75 and older are scheduled to start next week.

As the state works through Phase 1B, Ohio is expected to continue receiving about the same number of vaccines for the next few weeks DeWine said.

Ohio received around 100,000 doses this week.

The governor said the state’s next bump in shipments could come in March when the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is expected to be authorized for use.

This week Ohio is entering Phase 1B of vaccine distribution, with people ages 80 and older eligible to be vaccinated.

Multiple health departments and health care networks in the Miami Valley started vaccinating Ohioans Tuesday, with vaccine clinics scheduled to take place throughout the week.

Some providers saw registration for the clinics fill up in hours as vaccines were made eligible to the state’s general public for the first time. Previously, Ohio has prioritized frontline health care and hospital staff, EMS and first responders and residents and staff in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other congregate care facilities.

Under Phase 1B, vaccinations are scheduled to begin for the following:

  • Jan. 18: Age 80 and above.
  • Jan. 25: Age 75 and above and Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental or an early-onset medical disorder and an intellectual or developmental disability.
  • Feb. 1: Age 70 and above and K-12 school staff.
  • Feb. 8: Age 65 and above.
  • Feb. 15: Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental or an early-onset medical disorder

With new variants in the virus appearing in Ohio, DeWine and Vanderhoff urged residents to continue following health guidelines and to get the vaccine once a person is eligible.

The mutations, which are believed to be more contagious, are a natural process and typical virus behavior, Vanderhoff said.

“What is particularly interesting is that the changes we’re seeing internationally and here in Ohio look an awful lot alike,” he said.

However, the genetic signature found in the variant discovered by Ohio State University Medical Center is different than that variant in the UK.

“That suggests the mutation arose here and wasn’t imported,” Vanderhoff said.

Based off experiences in other countries and regions, it is likely that the more contagious strains will become dominants strain, he added. This could result in more hospitalizations, cases and deaths.

While there are different strains, they are still transmitted the same. There, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds and frequent hand washing are still encouraged. It is also believed that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective against the other strains.

“It’s just a cautionary warning that it’s here and if it follows the pattern that we’ve seen in other countries like the UK, then within two months, it becomes the dominant strain,” DeWine said. “If anyone needs an incentive to get the vaccine, that should do it.”

Fewer than 5,000 daily cases of coronavirus were reported in Ohio for the second day in a row Tuesday, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The 4,989 cases recorded were a slight increase from the 4,312 added on Monday. In total, there have been 836,055 cases in Ohio throughout the pandemic.

More than 250 hospitalizations were reported, bringing the state’s total to 43,605. Patient counts continued to decline Tuesday, with 3,643 coronavirus patients in Ohio hospitals. It’s the lowest number of patients reported in the last two weeks and the seventh day in a row the state had less than 4,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Southwest Ohio also continued to see a drop in coronavirus patients in hospitals. As of Tuesday, 975 patients were in regional hospitals. It’s the first time the patient count was less than 1,000 in at least two weeks.

Twenty ICU admissions were reported Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 6,391.

Deaths increased by 55 for a total of 10,336.

As of Tuesday, 456,131 people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Ohio. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses.

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