More people eligible to get vaccines this week, but many slots already booked

While today the age limit to get a COVID-19 vaccine lowered to 65, many people will have to wait because clinic appointments remain full with other older adults.

Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County opened for vaccine appointments online at 8:30 a.m. Friday and by 8:45 a.m. those slots were listed as full. They also had some appointments reserved for people calling in by phone, which took “about an hour to go through those,” said Dan Suffoletto, spokesman the department. They had about 450 doses.

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“Online ... we’ve got thousands of people trying to get the doses,” Suffoletto said. “The phone line takes a little bit longer because we’ve only got so many people answering the phone.”

Greene County Public Health’s waitlist ballooned past 20,000 and Miami County Public Health didn’t have any more availability it could open for this week.

It will be “several weeks” before the eligibility expands again to accommodate the larger 65 and older group, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday. This will give clinics some time to start to catch up on those already eagerly seeking to be immunized.

On Friday, Feb. 12, Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County will again open registration for more appointments.

“But we don’t know how many doses we’re going to get yet, so we don’t how many there will be,” Suffoletto said.

If you’re eligible to get a vaccine, no central system exists at this point for registering at the different clinics, pharmacies and public health departments providing the shots. However, the state has a map where you can search to find which of the more than 700 vaccine providers in Ohio are located near you: vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov.

In Greene County, with more than 26,000 older adults not in a nursing home or congregate setting, the health department urged patience and said it could take several weeks or even longer, pending vaccine availability, before people on the waitlist receive a call. The department also encouraged people to check with other Greene County vaccine providers like Kroger.

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“We are focusing on getting our most vulnerable population vaccinated who are most at risk of severe illness should they get COVID-19. We want to remind everyone that vaccine is in very short supply at this time and vaccinating everyone in Phase 1B is going to take a lot of time. Patience is key,” Melissa Howell, health commissioner for Greene County Public Health said when the department shared the vaccine wait update.

As of Friday, about 8.3% of Ohioans had received at least one dose of a vaccine, including 39,481 vaccines started within the past 24 hours. A least 53% of those 80 and older have received at least one dose, which is the age group most at risk for severe disease or death from the respiratory virus.

More than 131,300 people in the nine-county region surrounding Dayton have received at least one dose.

While awaiting a turn for a vaccine, health officials have urged that people continue to take precautions such as wearing masks, keeping distance, ventilating spaces, staying home if sick and practicing good hand hygiene.

Miami County Public Health said Friday in a statement that new COVID-19 cases seem to be trending downward “but this is not a time to stop safety precautions.”

“It will take some time to get enough people vaccinated before we can begin to ease any safety precautions,” the department said.

Hospitalization numbers are steadily getting better but remain high. As of Friday, there were 178 inpatients at hospitals in the region with COVID-19, which is about 1 in 11 total inpatients. That’s down 63% from 60 days ago when 1 in 4 inpatients were COVID-19 positive.

If Ohio continues to stay under 2,500 hospitalizations for seven consecutive days, the state’s curfew could be lifted as early as next Thursday. Currently, the curfew is from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

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