Nearly 1,000,000 Ohioans are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 – but who will get the next shot at immunization? How long until everyone is eligible?
Most public health officials don’t expect categories to open up until states get significantly more vaccine in the next few weeks – but when that happens, and who will be included in the next group of those who will be vaccinated, is still to be determined.
“We’re anxiously awaiting clarity on this,” special adviser on vaccine coordination for The Health Collaborative Kate Schroder said.
Eligibility for people age 65 and up will extend later this month.
“The feedback we’re hearing from the state is that the current levels are probably going to be consistent for the next few weeks, at least likely through the end of March, and maybe by April we will have the opportunity to have much more change," Schroder said.
Who’s next in line hasn’t been announced, but Schroder said she expects it to continue to be based on age and medical condition.
“They’ll be making decisions based on categories: who is most likely to be impacted by this and how can we vaccinate those most likely to die,” Schroder said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he wants to expand eligibility as quickly as possible, but that’s contingent on the number of available doses. Currently, Ohio doesn’t have the doses on hand to do so, he said.
“How long it’s going to take really depends on how fast vaccines come in,” he said.
While Ohio residents wait, Schroder said keeping an appointment-based system in place should help Ohio avoid the long lines seen nationwide and get shots in arms as efficiently as possible.
“They’re ready,” she said. “This is our light at the end of the tunnel and we are going to keep working hard as a team, as a community, to get these shots out there as quickly as possible.”
The Ohio Department of Aging’s regional rapid-response program will host on-site clinics supported by the National Guard starting the week of Feb. 8.