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Ohio targeting college students for vaccination, orders more vaccine to drum up demand

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Posted at 5:28 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 19:05:35-04

CINCINNATI — When coronavirus vaccines first hit the market late last year, brand mattered less than access. Now -- with three versions available on the market, varying availability and nearly universal eligibility among Tri-Staters 16 years and up -- access still matters most. But vaccine-seekers must be strategic.

"I think the overriding sentiment is that, if you have a vaccine in front of you, you just get it, and that's what we've seen across the board," said Dr. John Brownstein, creator of VaccineFinder.org, a website that helps users find vaccination sites and learn which brand of vaccine is available there, if that information is available.

"There are certain cases in which we are actually seeing potentially a greater interest in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, because it is one shot," Brownstein said. "It is one and done. Many people are looking at that one as one to just get over with."

But availability for the Johnson & Johnson shot might be limited, at least for a while in Ohio, as Gov. Mike DeWine rolls out his plan to install vaccination centers at public colleges and universities across the state. Those will receive exclusively the J&J vaccine -- some 171,000 doses to start. It's one of the country's 10 largest deliveries of vaccine.

The federal government makes the final decision when it comes to how many doses of which vaccine a state receives each week. All 50 states get shares based on their over-18 population. If any state asks for less than that maximum in any given week, the leftovers roll into the state's supply for the next week.

The vaccine brand Ohio has received the most: Pfizer, which is the only one of the three approved for use in 16- and 17-year-olds.

DeWine said his Department of Health would continue to assess need across the state on a weekly basis.

"If we see a part of Ohio, an area of Ohio -- a city, zip code, whatever -- (where) people are backed up and there's really a great demand, then we will make sure more vaccine is there," he said.

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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.