CEDARVILLE, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine Tuesday said he hopes the first batch of a COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Ohio "around Dec. 15."
From his home in Cedarville, during a regularly scheduled coronavirus update, he said the first batch would bring roughly 30,000 doses of the vaccine under development by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer; the second batch would come about a week later from Moderna.
Neither DeWine nor Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff went into fine detail regarding who would be eligible to receive a vaccination from one of these initial rounds. They both said generally the first tier would consist primarily of people working on the front lines of coronavirus-related healthcare and other populations identified as most at risk of contracting the virus.
"We are looking at getting the vaccine to those at the greatest risk and the healthcare providers who work with them," DeWine said.
That would include healthcare workers in emergency departments and ICUs, and other front-line workers, as well as other healthcare professionals who work with coronavirus patients. DeWine also mentioned those living in and working in nursing homes as those who might receive some of the earliest doses of a vaccine.
Vanderhoff said health officials have already received preliminary guidance from the national Advisory Council on Immunization Practices and said they expect further refinement of those guidelines in the coming weeks before the first doses arrive.
"We have been working to flesh that out," Vanderhoff said.
When asked when the "average Joe Ohioan" could expect to receive a vaccination, DeWine didn't offer a specific timeline but said that once the initial batches arrive, supplemental batches should begin arriving "every few days," creating what he described as a "continuous flow" of the vaccine.
"We shouldn't just think it's only going to be 30,000 for the month of December. That's not our understanding," he said.
When the vaccine arrives in the Cincinnati area, Hamilton County Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency director Nick Crossley said, the race is on to treat frontline healthcare workers.
“You’ve got this wide range of people that can give it," Crossley said. "The issue’s going to be finding those people that are not either working or overworked or are out on leave.”
Hamilton County Public Health is currently communicating with staffing agencies to augment their nursing staff so those who would normally administer the vaccine can get it themselves and the rollout is as smooth as possible.
“A lot of the ultra-cold storage is, a lot of it is academic based," Crossley said. "So (University of Cincinnati) is a perfect partner with that in our region. I think there’s a couple of other ultra-cold units around the region.”
Crossley said planning has already begun on the next task: getting the vaccine to the general public.
“Hamilton County Public Health, the ones I work with primarily, they’ve got a system of using a pod system where they work with major employers and other organizations where they can vaccinate a large group of people at the same time,” he said.
Crossley has not heard of any instances of the vaccine being pre-positioned in town, pending FDA approval, but said it's not outside the realm of possibility.
Watch DeWine's full news conference here: