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As vaccines open to Ohioans 16+, older residents who waited struggle to book shots

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Posted at 3:21 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 17:46:53-04

CINCINNATI — Now that COVID vaccine appointments are open to some of the state's youngest people, limitations on their eligibility could be limiting options for some of the state's oldest.

On Monday, all Ohioans 16 years and older became eligible to sign up for their shots, but only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use on subjects younger than 18. That means adults looking to receive the Pfizer injections might begin finding appointments scarce.

That's been 75-year-old Darlene Jackson's experience.

"It's kind of a stressful situation," the Cincinnati resident told WCPO. "Initially, it was not a big priority because I was hearing, 'Warp speed,' that kind of thing, and I don't, for something this serious that you're going to be injecting internally, I'm not wanting anything that's warp speed."

But then an upcoming medical procedure made getting the vaccine a necessity. Jackson wanted to get the Pfizer vaccine, due to its higher efficacy rate than Moderna or Johnson & Johnson's versions, but she struggled to find an open appointment.

A spokesperson with UC Health told WCPO they would only book the Pfizer doses it receives for people 16 and 17 years old. Health officials in Clermont County said it has only received Pfizer doses and anyone can sign up for their appointments using the ArmorVax app, but their 2,300 appointments book up quickly.

"It says no appointments available, no COVID vaccines," she said while searching online. "I go back and check regularly. Nothing."

Eventually, on WCPO's recommendation, she called the Council on Aging of Southwest Ohio.

"When I explained to them what I was going through, he got on that site and was able to get further along to find out what days were available and what time. I never could get that far," Jackson said.

Schedulers said timing is crucial. Clermont County opens new appointments through ArmorVax every Thursday at noon. UC Health opens new appointments Thursdays at 8 a.m.

Ohioans looking to locate a vaccine provider can do so using the state's online portal.