Health care providers across Ohio and Kentucky have administered more than 150,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to close out the year 2020, but that still leaves hundreds of thousands still waiting in freezers across the two states to go out after the New Year, with many more on the way in 2021.
Officials on both sides of the Ohio River have remained upfront that disbursing the vaccines would be a lengthy and time-consuming process but hope the vaccine will be widely available by summer 2021.
In Hamilton County, where roughly 9,000 of the state's 94,000 doses administered have gone out so far, Greg Kesterman, the health commissioner, said, "I think we have to be fair to the professionals doing the work and realize that we're only in the first couple of weeks."
He added that the timing of Pfizer and Moderna's respective vaccines' arrival has contributed to what some could perceive as a slow start.
"If there were probably two weeks of the year that are the worst weeks to roll a vaccine campaign program out, it would probably be the week of Christmas, with one and a half federal holidays, and the week of New Years, with one federal holiday, because so many agencies are impacted," he said. "That being said, we're happy. We're glad we can start the program."
"Admittedly, it's going to take us a while to get this vaccine to everyone that wants it," said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. "We believe by certainly the summer, that it's going to be widely available, and that means we need your patience, and that's going to be hard."
Roughly 34,000 Kentuckians had received the first round of the two-part vaccination as of Dec. 30, with another 120,000 or so already delivered and waiting to be administered. The rate at which more will arrive in the two states is, in part, out of local leaders' hands.
"The timing is going to depend on the allocations from the federal government, which thus far are just trickling in," Beshear said. "And they're also going to depend on the number of vaccines that are approved and the speed of the manufacturing of them."
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he hopes more manufacturers come forward with more options in the coming months.
"What we think will occur is, it'll go like this (expands his hands): We'll have more opportunities every single week with more of the vaccine coming into the state of Ohio," he said.
Both states first prioritized health care workers actively treating COVID-19 patients at hospitals and convalescent care facilities, like nursing homes, and residents of those facilities. Each governor has identified people over the age of 65 or 70 and people working in schools as among those who will become eligible to receive a vaccination next.
Until more doses arrive, DeWine urged hospitals and care centers to administer the doses within 24 hours of receiving them if possible.
Beshear asked for patience.
"The patience is going to be one of the hardest things that we've done," he said.