Ohioans 50+ years old soon eligible for COVID vaccine, spiking competition for appointments

Posted at 5:01 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 17:30:26-05

CINCINNATI — It took Ava Pye of Westwood seven attempts to book her first COVID-19 vaccination. She finally booked her first appointment Tuesday morning, but for Ohio seniors like her, competition is about to get even fiercer when the eligible age range expands to include all state residents 50 years or older later this week.

But experts hope a corresponding expansion of supply will keep opportunities open for the state's more vulnerable populations who are still waiting for their turn.

"I called this morning and got an appointment," Pye told WCPO. "They're going quickly. So when you think you've found one, and by the time you dial that number or put in that information into the computer, it's gone."

Frances Worthen said she had to call two or three times before scoring an appointment. She just received her second dose and told WCPO she feels lucky she got hers in before more people become eligible to sign up.

"A lot of people is heading on to try to get it," she said. "You just have to just keep going and calling and applying."

By Thursday, March 11, more than a million additional Ohioans will become eligible to register for an appointment. Medical experts say people who are less tech-savvy might be at a disadvantage when it comes to booking their first shot. The state's online tool to find providers -- which went live this week -- requires users to find, download and filter through a PDF to search for the clinics closest to them.

"The more people that know how to navigate the internet and look for places're more likely to find something, and you will be able to make your own luck," said Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

But Fichtenbaum said he hopes what has become a steady supply of between 300,000 and 400,000 new doses shipped to the region each week will reduce some of that competition for appointments.

"Sometime in very late April or May, we might get to that point where we have more vaccine than arms to give," he said. "As long as we keep 300, 400 (thousand) doses coming, I think people will be able to find something within a three-week period."

While Hamilton County lets anyone register before randomly selecting eligible patients, people in their 50s coming to UC Health must wait until Thursday to register.

For help finding out if you're eligible for a vaccine in your state, click or tap here.