Coronavirus vaccine arrives in Ohio: ‘The day we have been waiting for’

Ohio health care workers were among the first Americans to receive a federally approved coronavirus vaccine on Monday.

Gov. Mike DeWine called it the “day we have been waiting for,” as staff at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center received their shots.

“Fran (DeWine) and I were thrilled to watch health care workers begin to get vaccinated,” he said. “It was truly a moment of hope ... While the pandemic is not over, today is truly a happy day.”

Dr. Mercy Dixon, an emergency medicine resident physician in her final year at OSU Wexner Medical Center who cares for COVID-positive patients daily, was among the first vaccine recipients.

“It went fantastic, painless,” she said while speaking during DeWine’s regular news conference.

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Following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio is giving the vaccine first to health care workers involved with caring for COVID-19 patients, emergency medical service responders, and residents and staff at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

This week, Ohio is expecting to receive nearly 100,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, which was granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

More hospitals across the state should receive vaccine doses next week. A Premier Health administrator said last week area hospitals did not know when they would receive coronavirus vaccines or how many doses they would receive.

OSU Wexner Medical Center and UC Medical Center each received 975 doses. On Tuesday, eight more Ohio hospitals will receive shipments of 975 vaccine doses produced by Pfizer. Mercy Health–Springfield Regional Medical Center is among those eight hospitals selected by the Ohio Department of Health based on geography, population and access to the ultra-cold storage needed to store the Pfizer vaccine.

The rest of this week’s shipment is going to long-term care facilities.

DeWine announced Monday that the first COVID vaccines should reach five to 10 Ohio nursing homes this Friday. This is made possible by a CDC initiative. It had been previously announced that Ohio would begin its nursing home vaccinations using pharmacy providers on Dec. 21.

Ohio expects to receive approximately 660,000 coronavirus vaccine doses in December and 660,000 doses in January, DeWine said. Much of that is doses of a second, virtually equally effective, coronavirus vaccine produced by Moderna that could be authorized by the FDA by the end of this week. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require two doses administered 28 days and 21 days apart respectively.

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Although this is a day to celebrate, DeWine said, it will take months before the coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available and Ohio can reach herd immunity. He cautioned Ohioans to continue to wear masks, social distance and follow other safety protocols.

Ohio has nearly a million residents working in health care and residing in congregate living settings. The CDC has not released recommendations for which groups will be prioritized next.

Once the vaccine becomes widely available, DeWine said the Ohio National Guard and ODH have partnered with Cardinal Health OptiFreigh Logistics Resources to make same-day deliveries to 350 locations across the state.

DeWine said ODH will launch an online dashboard this week to track state vaccination data.

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“The way I look at it, every day from here on, somewhere in the state of Ohio, someone will be getting vaccinated, a lot of people will be getting vaccinated,” he said.

On Monday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 7,875 daily coronavirus cases, 59 deaths and 291 hospitalizations from COVID-19. While the daily case count is below the 21-day average, DeWine said he does not know if this is a plateau and that is still a concerning number of cases. Monday numbers are often lower due to testing delays over the weekend.

The Dayton Daily News will host an hour-long virtual community conversation on the topic of coronavirus vaccines streamed live on our Facebook page at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Hosted by our staff, the panel will include area health experts.

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