More patients, more problems: Ohio's COVID-19 vaccine supply can't keep pace with demand

Moderna Vaccine
Posted at 6:26 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 19:27:07-05

Clermont County received 1,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccine last week, when people over the age of 80 became eligible to receive it for the first time. By Monday, when the eligibility pool expanded to include all Ohioans over 75, over 14,000 Clermont County residents had placed themselves on a waitlist for the shot.

The scales — the number of vaccine doses versus the number of people hoping to receive them — likely won’t balance themselves for months. Anywhere.

“At this point, we’re really stressing patience,” Clermont County Public Health spokesman Keith Robinson said Monday. "I know we’re all tired of wearing masks and keeping our distance and avoiding large gatherings, but until we can get the majority of our population vaccinated, it’s going to be critically important to keep the numbers from rising again.”

Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans will become newly eligible for the vaccine every week until at least Feb. 15, according to the schedule established by Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health. But the federal government only sends the state about 100,000 doses of the vaccine each week.

TIMELINE: When Ohioans can get the COVID-19 vaccine

Like Robinson, DeWine has emphasized the need for patience. The governor does not expect supply to significantly improve until March, when the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson hopes its single-shot vaccine will receive emergency FDA authorization and enter the market.

There’s very little that patients can do to improve their shot at a vaccine appointment until then, except monitor their eligibility and quickly sign up for appointments when they become available.

Because the vaccines are so scarce, Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said providers are accepting appointments on a first-come, first-served basis. As long as a patient qualifies under the DeWine administration’s plan, they can secure an appointment by being quick.

“Everyone who is eligible has an equal opportunity to receive a vaccine,” he said. “I think it's really important for folks to know that there are many providers that have vaccines."

But even the quickest will be competing with — by Feb. 15 — millions of other people who want the shot.

"I'm very concerned about it. I think the rollout of the vaccines needs to go more quickly; we need more production,” Sen. Rob Portman said Monday. “Obviously the issue in Ohio here is we're not getting the supplies that we need.”

Meanwhile, in Butler County, the characteristically bellicose Sheriff Richard Jones sent out an official statement condemning the ongoing vaccine rollout.

It reads, in part: “This is the most unorganized cluster I’ve seen in my lifetime.”