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Ohioans over 40 become eligible for vaccine, creating more competition for appointments

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Posted at 6:27 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 19:35:18-04

CINCINNATI — Fifty-two-year-old Beth Rigney didn’t mind standing in line behind 40-somethings Friday when she went to get her first COVID-19 shot at the Cintas Center mass vaccination clinic. She thinks the more people who are eligible for the poke, the better.

“Too fast? No,” Rigney said. “We need to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible before these variants get out of control.”

But she was concerned that appointments could become harder to book as Ohio expands its criteria for vaccination.

In January, only health care workers, nursing home residents, people with a small number of qualifying health conditions and seniors over 75 could get a shot. On March 29, every adult in the state will be equally eligible for an appointment with the needle.

WCPO viewers have written in frequently since the vaccine first became eligible to the public, many of them worried and upset after frustrated attempts to book an appointment for themselves.

Larry, wrote 69-year-old Linda Flowers of Delhi, I have tried over and over every day and cannot get an appointment for the vaccine.

Berdette Barber, who also got her first jab Friday, agrees with Rigney — more vaccination is better, and young people need it just as much as older adults, but distribution could use a shot in the arm of its own.

She battled the system herself before mass vaccination clinics like Cintas arrived.

“We need more sites like this,” she said of Cintas, which is equipped to fully vaccinate 10,000 people by mid-April. “Once Cintas Center opened up as a site, I had no problem registering. The same day that it opened, I was able to get in. Before Cintas was an option, it was very difficult."

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, said Friday he believes the demand-supply equation will be more balanced soon — even with millions more vaccine-seekers entering the picture.

“I think probably sometime in very late April or May, we might get to that point where we might have more vaccine than we have arms to give,” he said.

In the meantime, Ohioans can continue hunting for appointments using the state’s online scheduling tool.

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Senior Reporter Larry Seward is focusing his reporting on the COVID-19 vaccine to bring you answers and information. Contact Larry at 513-667-4804 or larry.seward@wcpo.com.