CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley sent a letter to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday asking that the governor remove age restrictions on COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and put more essential workers on the list for the jab.
In the letter, Cranley said a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found vaccination by age can be detrimental to minority communities, many of which have already been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus. Black Americans make up a smaller segment of the country than white but remain more likely to develop serious illness or die if they become sick with COVID-19.
"To prioritize by age is inherently unfair to minorities because they have a shorter life expectancy and are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 at younger ages," Cranley wrote. "To ensure the health and safety of these vulnerable communities and increase equity among those being vaccinated, this science should be followed in the prioritization process."
Cranley also asked that more workers, including 911 operators, grocery store employees and restaurant workers, be made eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1C. Currently, under Phase 1C, people who are eligible for the vaccine include people over the age of 60, law enforcement officers and childcare workers.
"I am extremely grateful for first responders, grocery employees, restaurant workers and so many others who have stepped up to keep our families fed and our city safe during this crisis," Cranley wrote. "They are undoubtedly heroes... All of these people are providing vital services and they should be vaccinated as quickly as possible."
Virginia Scott, nursing director at the Cincinnati Health Department, said the city government has already worked hard to ensure equal vaccine access within the limits imposed by the state government. Most vaccine clinics in the city are relatively small, local and targeted at accessibility so people with varying incomes, in various parts of the city, using different transportation, can still reach at least one.
About 29% of the Cincinnatians vaccinated so far are Black.
"We want to make sure that we're going out into the community," Scott said. "We want to make sure that we're going out and touching those communities that can't come to our larger events."
Ohio entered Phase 1C of the vaccine rollout Thursday.