Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine received their first shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning in Jamestown, Ohio.
Both DeWines became eligible for vaccination Monday, when the state’s eligibility criteria expanded to include Ohioans between the ages of 70 and 75. (Mike DeWine is 74.) Ohioans between 65 and 70 will be added to the list Feb. 8.
The couple was vaccinated on-camera by Dr. Kevin Sharrett of the Kettering Health Network, who explained the process, answered common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and handed out lollipops for good patient behavior.
“Make sure Kevin doesn’t short me on that one,” Mike DeWine said, rolling up his sleeve after Fran received her shot. (He didn’t. Mike got grape.)
Before the shot, DeWine asked Sharrett to make the case for vaccination to Ohioans who might be hesitant to receive it.
“I tell patients this: At the end of the day, you have to decide, ‘Am I safer with the vaccine or am I safer with the virus?’” Sharrett said. “I don’t want to be negative about it, but the reality is, if our people aren’t vaccinated, sooner or later you’re going to catch this virus because it’s not going to go away.
“When you look at it, in my mind, it’s very, very straightforward and it’s very clear. The positive benefits of taking the vaccine by far outweigh any kind of negative to the vaccine.”
Sharrett added that the local health department had given thousands of doses of COVID-19 vaccine without any serious complications, making both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines safer than common shots used to treat flu and shingles.
“In my mind, it’s a very, very easy decision,” he said. “I’m recommending to my patients across the board that they receive the vaccine.”
The DeWines plan to receive their second shot of the Pfizer vaccine before the end of the month.
Ohio’s vaccination campaign, which is currently in “Phase 1B,” has focused on health care workers, people in nursing homes, people with severe disabilities, K-12 teachers and seniors living in the the state.
Most eligible candidates were bumped to the top of the list because of the high rate of death in their demographics. Seniors in nursing homes are more likely than any other group to die of COVID-19, and seniors outside still face substantial risk if they become ill.
People with certain pre-existing health conditions, including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and severe heart disease, are likewise at elevated risk of serious complications and death.
K-12 educators are the exception to the rule: To meet DeWine’s goal of getting most Ohio children physically back in classrooms by March 1, the state worked with school districts to arrange vaccination for teachers and staff at schools that agreed to make the return.
DeWine’s administration and the Ohio Department of Health have not announced which Ohioans will be eligible to receive the vaccine after the week of Feb. 15. He and other government officials expect the state’s vaccine supply to remain limited until at least March.