CINCINNATI — Jill Threm felt like she won the lottery Thursday.
That's when she and other Ohioans 50 years and older became eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccination. She got lucky and was able to secure an appointment quickly despite fierce competition for the limited supply.
"I'm still kind of shaking because I was so excited," she told WCPO.
But spots fill up quickly, especially on a day when an estimated 1.4 million more Ohioans became eligible for the vaccine, bringing the total number of people who can register statewide to about 2.2 million.
In addition to people over 50, Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered that a number of other essential workers and high-risk populations can also sign up for an appointment. The state this week launched an online tool to determine if a person is eligible.
Every week, Ohio distributes about 500,000 vaccine doses to private and public health care clinics and pharmacies throughout the state, according to epidemiologist, Stephanie Courtney, with the Cincinnati Health Department.
She said Thursday it was likely too late to get an appointment this week, but the Ohio Department of Health is planning to administer roughly 10,000 doses at the Cintas Center later next week.
The new tier of eligibility added about 2.2 million Ohioans to the list, Courtney said, and each provider can have its own specific criteria.
"Some will vaccinate people who live anywhere in the state of Ohio; some will vaccinate anyone who works in Ohio, even if you live out of state," Courtney said.
Cincinnati's health department was limiting its distribution to people who lived or worked in the city but relaxed that rule Thursday to include anyone who lives or works in Hamilton County.
The Cincinnati Health Department is using the app Armor Vaxx where eligible county workers and residents can register and receive a notification when appointments open in your area.
The app will also notify users when a pop-up vaccination spot pops up that day.
Courtney added that other counties throughout Ohio have been lending a hand as long as the patient lives in the state.
Courtney recommends trying the following steps when trying to book an appointment:
- Call your doctor or pharmacy directly to see if they have appointments available
- Register through Kroger
- Register through your local or county health department
Courtney also gave one insider tip for folks in Hamilton County: Every Wednesday, the Cincinnati Health Department finds out how many doses it will get from the state. She said that means those days typically see more appointments open.
The Cincinnati Health Department can be reached by phone at 513-352-2927.