Gov. Mike DeWine’s Tuesday news conference started with the on-camera vaccinations of four Ohio seniors — the first group of Ohioans to become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine outside of hospitals and nursing homes.
“Mr. Crow, how are you doing?” DeWine asked 104-year-old Alfred Crow, who received the vaccine in Athens, Ohio.
Crow replied: “Well, I’m doing better.”
All Ohioans over the age of 80 became eligible for vaccination Tuesday. They were first in line for “phase 1B” of Ohio’s vaccine rollout, DeWine explained, because of the elevated risk of serious complications and death among seniors with COVID-19. Eligibility will expand by five years every week until early February, when all Ohioans over the age of 65 will be allowed to receive the vaccine.
But "allowed" doesn’t mean "guaranteed." The federal government provides Ohio with about 100,000 vaccine doses each week, but the state’s over-80 population includes more than 400,000 people. By mid-February, over 2 million Ohioans will be considered technically eligible.
The state government doesn’t expect a significant increase in vaccine supply until March, when the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to enter rotation alongside the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
Speaking Tuesday, DeWine acknowledged many Ohioans over 80 will not be able to receive the vaccine during their first week of eligibility and encouraged them to keep track of vaccine providers in their communities.
“You may not have been able to get in this week, but next week, the same places are going to have the vaccine, so people will have an opportunity again, next week, to try to sign up,” he said.
The governor described the state as “on offense” against the virus, finally, after spending 2020 focused on mitigation.
Every nursing home in the state has received at least one visit from a vaccine provider, he said, and some have received a second visit so participating patients and staff can get their second dose of the vaccine. Assisted living facilities should expect a similar rollout soon.
Who else is included in Phase 1B
Adults with certain qualifying medical conditions and intellectual disabilities also will be eligible soon to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Although deaths are generally highest among seniors, some early-onset medical problems contribute to mortality among younger Ohioans, said. Ohio Department of Health advisor Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.
People who have a qualifying condition and an intellectual or developmental disability become eligible Jan. 25. People with a qualifying condition and no intellectual disability become eligible Feb. 15.
The full list of qualifying conditions is as follows:
Next week, we will open vaccinations for those Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders who make them particularly vulnerable AND who have a developmental or intellectual disability. pic.twitter.com/Gbe7jOHUTt
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) January 19, 2021
People who qualify will receive a call from local disability services to inform them of their eligibility.
Teachers and staff at many Ohio K-12 schools are on track to join the vaccine-eligible pool Feb. 1. DeWine had announced their eligibility in early January but included a caveat: They could only receive the vaccine if their district committed to resuming in-person or hybrid learning by March 1.
About 95% of districts have agreed to do so, DeWine said Tuesday. Participating school districts will partner with local retail pharmacies or health departments to arrange vaccination, and K-12 workers will not compete with seniors for appointments at general vaccination providers.
By the numbers
ODH reported 4,989 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, well below the 7,309-case average of the last 21 days. Deaths (55), hospitalizations (254) and new ICU admissions (20) were all significantly lower than the 21-day average, too.
“This is certainly a movement in the right direction,” DeWine said. “We don’t know if it’s a trend or not.”