What Ohio's vaccination expansion means for Hamilton County

WCPO vaccine.jpg
Posted at 3:33 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 17:20:50-04

All Ohioans over the age of 16 will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination starting on March 29, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced on Tuesday.

Starting Friday Ohioans, ages 40 and older as well as those with certain medical conditions will be eligible to received the coronavirus vaccine.

Those with cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease or obesity will also be eligible starting Friday, according to the Journal-News.

DeWine said the roll out has sped up considerably because the state has access to more vaccines now than it did before.

"We're getting more vaccine, we think, that's going to work," he said. "So, again, it's a tension to make sure, how do you make sure there's no vaccine sitting there unused where it could save someone's life and at the same time through allowing people to get in."

This week, the Hamilton County Health Department said it received 16,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and it expects up to 20,000 in the coming weeks.

Still, Hamilton County health commissioner Greg Kesterman said it will still take a couple of months to be able to get enough vaccines for the entire county.

"Right now, we have so much demand for vaccine we need to schedule those appointments so we don't have long lines and have to turn people away," said Kesterman. "But as we have more difficulty filling appointments, I think at some point we'll be to the point where people can walk up and get vaccinated.

Kesterman said 50 providers in the county are vaccinating people right now, and 50 more are preparing to start taking patients. Ohio currently has 1,300 vaccine providers throughout the state, between pharmacies, clinics and local health departments.

Those who qualify for a vaccine so far have not been able to pre-schedule an appointment ahead of the day the eligibility expands, but on March 29, everyone over the age of 16 will be able to make an appointment.

One caveat of DeWine's announcement surrounds how the expansion will affect those who would like to have their 16- and 17-year-old children vaccinated: The FDA has only approved the Pfizer vaccine for those under the age of 18. Neither Moderna nor the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine have been approved, so teens eligible at the end of March will have to go to a location specifically giving the Pfizer vaccine.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Health Department will launch a mass vaccination clinic at the Cincinnati Cintas Center for residents aged 50 and older. DeWine said by the end of the month, 15 mass vaccination sites like it will be open throughout the state.

If you are having trouble scheduling an appointment to receive a vaccine in Ohio, here are some tips you can try. Although Ohio has been slow to join it, there is also a new COVID-19 vaccine tracking website that promises to accurately track and report which pharmacies near users have vaccines in stock and ready to be administered.