The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a study that shows early vaccination rates among older and high-risk people prevented roughly 1,800 deaths in seniors in Ohio alone during the first five months vaccines were available.
The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly deadly for aging people and those with heart or respiratory conditions; states like Ohio gated vaccine availability to allow those at higher risk levels to get the shots earlier, when supply was more scarce.
Ken Wilson, with the Council on Aging for Southwest Ohio, said the rollout to get those older people vaccinated posed challenges.
"The initial rollout relied on technology for seniors to sign up for vaccinations and a lot of seniors are not used to using technology," said Wilson.
His team stepped in, sending newsletters, making calls and even taking the vaccine directly to seniors with the help of the Ohio National Guard.
These steps contributed to saving the lives reported in the Department of Health's new study, which showed the vaccine prevented roughly 12,000 cases, 5,300 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths among seniors in Ohio.
In Hamilton County, around 69% of eligible people have received at least one of the COVID-19 vaccine shots, with seniors making up the largest group of vaccinated people. In Kentucky, 700,000 seniors have been vaccinated.