Scheduling begins: What to know about vaccine rollout

Credit: Jordan Laird

Credit: Jordan Laird

Demand for coronavirus vaccines has outpaced Ohio’s current supply, a situation likely to persist for months.

More than 250,000 residents in the Miami Valley region are estimated to be 65 and older, a large part of the second group of people eligible for the shots. In some local counties, that age group includes about 1 in 5 residents.

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“We are going to be in Phase 1A and now Phase 1B for multiple months because of limited supply of the vaccine,” Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jeffrey Cooper said.

Miami County Public Health booked all of its vaccination appointments for last week in five hours.

“We’re not used to dealing with scarcity,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. “We are used to a world where when we want something, we can get it. And with the vaccine, for example, we have three times as many people above the age of 80 as we have vaccine for them in the first week. So, not everybody is going to be able to get it ... we’re going to have to be patient and understand and work with each other.”

As we head into the next stage of distribution, expect changes and glitches and more details to come out later. But here’s a round up of what we know so far.

1. The next eligible group is large and wants to be vaccinated.

Over the next few weeks, eligibility will increase incrementally to include more older adults. The eligibility schedule in Ohio to seek a vaccine is currently:

  • Last week: 80 and older
  • Jan. 25: 75 and older; people with certain medical conditions
  • Feb. 1: 70 and older; K-12 staff and personnel
  • Feb. 8: 65 and older

Demand from these age groups is likely to be strong. While attitudes continue to change, surveys so far indicate older adults are overall mostly interested in receiving a vaccine.

Three-quarters of adults ages 65 and older say they would definitely or probably get vaccinated, compared with 55% of those under age 30, per a December Pew Research Center poll.

2. Both private and public COVID-19 vaccine clinics have started, but expect spots to go fast.

If you’re eligible to get a vaccine, no central system exists at this point for registering and for a while you should expect that appointments will book up fast because of limited supply. More appointments will open as more vaccines are distributed.

You can go to vaccine.coronavirus.ohio.gov to search by county or zip code for a provider near you.

No local clinics offer walk-up vaccinations at this time.

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Depending on the location, some are letting eligible people register for the future while others aren’t taking new appointments for now.

The following is not a comprehensive list, but here are some of the providers in the area that you can check with:

  • Kettering Health: All appointments have been filled. Check ketteringhealth.org/coronavirus for announcements and to schedule an appointment when one becomes available.
  • Premier Health: All appointments have been filled. Check premierhealth.com/vaccine for announcements and when appointments are available, schedule one by calling 937-276-4141 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Kroger Pharmacy: Schedule an appointment at some pharmacies at kroger.com/ohiocovidvaccine or by calling 866-211-5620.
  • Discount Drug Mart: Register for an appointment at discount-drugmart.com or call your local pharmacy. All 75 Discount Drug Mart locations were approved for vaccine distribution.

Local health departments also will have a limited supply of vaccines. The agencies are updating information on their Facebook pages and websites. You can get the latest information for each county at the following places:

  • Butler County General Health District is not vaccinating Phase 1B at this time.
  • Middletown Health Department: Pre-registration is open at covid.cityofmiddletown.org.
  • Hamilton Health Department: Fill out the vaccination form at hamilton-oh.gov. Online registration is preferred but people can call 513-785-7080.
  • Champaign County Health District has registration at champaignhd.com.
  • Clark County Combined Health District residents can sign up at ccchd.com or call 937-717-2439.
  • Darke County General Health District residents can place their name on the list by emailing covidvaccine@familyhealthservices.org or call 937-547-2399. Visit darkecountyhealth.org for more information.
  • Greene County Public Health residents can sign up for alerts at healthalert.gcph.info/COVID19/signup. Residents who have trouble filling out the online form can call 937-374-5600.
  • Miami County Public Health is not taking any more appointments at this time, but information can be found at miamicountyhealth.net/vaccine-registration.
  • Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County has filled its Wednesday clinic. The public can check phdmc.org/vaccine-update for the latest information.
  • Preble County Public Health has no appointments available. Future clinics and appointment information will be posted at vaccinatepreble.com.
  • Warren County Health District has no appointments available. Announcements about future appointments will be posted at warrenchd.com/c19-vaccine.

3. These medical conditions are eligible during the 1B phase.

Ohioans younger than 65 with the following congenital, developmental or early-onset medical conditions are eligible for the vaccine beginning Jan. 25 as part of Phase 1B:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Inherited metabolic disorders
  • Severe neurologic disorders including epilepsy
  • Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Prader Willi Syndrome, Turner Syndrome
  • Severe lung disease including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Alpha- and beta-thalassemia

Children with these medical conditions cannot yet get the coronavirus vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for use in people 18 and older and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for use in people 16 and older.

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4. The vaccine should be free.

The government is paying for the vaccine itself, the Associated Press explained, and you shouldn’t be charged a copay or other fee to get it.

The cost for giving the shot will be covered by private and government insurance. If you don’t have insurance, providers can tap a government fund to cover costs.

5. The vaccines available now are safe and effective.

The development process for COVID-19 vaccines involved several steps comparable with those used to develop other shots such as the flu or measles innoculations, the Ohio Department of Health has said.

The FDA, as well as independent medical experts, rigorously evaluated the vaccines and evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work.

Two vaccines have been granted FDA emergency use authorization. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective, and the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective in clinical trials with more than 70,000 participants between the two studies. Although the COVID-19 vaccines themselves have been developed recently, the technology used in mRNA vaccines, like those developed by Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna, has been studied for decades.

“All of the steps are there … they really haven’t skipped any steps,” said Dr. Michael Dohn, medical director at Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County.

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6. You might feel some side effects while your immune system revs up.

Getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech shot or the Moderna version can cause some temporary discomfort, like many vaccines do.

In addition to a sore arm, people can experience a fever and some flu-like side effects — fatigue, aches, chills, headache. They last about a day, sometimes bad enough that recipients miss work, and are more common after the second dose and in younger people.

“What that reflects is the vaccine working and kicking up the immune system. When people’s immune system gets active, it is not uncommon to have headaches, muscle aches and low grade fever,” said Dr. Glen Solomon, chair of the Boonshoft School of Medicine Department Internal Medicine and Neurology.

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Associated Press contributed to this report.

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