For the first time this week, the Ohio Department of Health sent COVID-19 vaccine doses to physician groups and private doctors to administer in a traditional clinic setting — one smaller and, in many cases, more comfortable than the large-scale drive-thru and walk-up vaccine clinics that epitomized Ohio’s COVID-19 response through March and April. “Private providers are special to folks,” said Hamilton County Public Health commissioner Greg Kesterman. “They have a relationship with them, they know their health history, and they’re trusted. And so private providers are a great resource for vaccine.”
Health officials said they hope people who might have been unwilling or unable to schedule a shot at a mass-vaccination site will be more inclined to get the jab at their doctor's office. About 40% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to ODH. About 33% have completed their vaccination, either by getting a single shot of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine or two doses of the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. Covering the remaining portions of the population means expanding strategically, moving from mass-vaccination sites to convenient and trusted spots within Ohio communities. “We’re moving to many more communities, in physician’s offices and common places, whether that’s the rec center or the library,” said Health Collaborative special advisor Kate Schroder. “You’ll see more mobile. Almost all of our sites now in the community are walk-up, as well.” Public health leaders are counting on the bond between patients and doctors they know to push communities closer to herd immunity.