COLUMBUS, Ohio — The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
The days are warming and more good coronavirus news is coming to Ohio.
After drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna on Tuesday announced big increases in vaccine production, Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday said that the number of doses coming into Ohio would rise from about 230,000 this week to about 310,000 next week.
“We may see that push up to 400,000 by the end of the week,” DeWine said, referring to reports that a single-dose vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson is likely to receive regulatory approval over the weekend.
Also augmenting vaccine availability is that the state is finishing up its push to get vaccines into the arms of adults who work in Ohio schools in advance of a Monday deadline.
“Eventually, we’ll get to the point where we’ll be getting more vaccine in here than we have people who want it,” DeWine said.
That day is still off in the distance, but results from prioritizing the most at-risk Ohioans are starting to manifest.
Hospitalizations and ICU stays because of covid are continuing to drop as greater percentages of older Ohioans have been vaccinated. So far, just over 60% of Ohioans 80 and over have gotten a shot, followed by 52% of those 75-79, 41% of those 70-74 and 27% of 65 to 69 year-olds, the youngest age group now receiving priority.
DeWine has said he wants a greater portion of all those age groups to get shots before dropping down to younger Ohioans.
The rationale behind giving priority to older folks and Ohioans with certain health conditions, DeWine has said, was to protect those most at risk of hospitalization and death. An exception has been for educators, because DeWine said getting kids back in school had become an overriding priority.
But as more vaccines are flowing into the state, a disturbing trend might be emerging.
A rumbling came in December, when DeWine said that just 40% of nursing home workers were agreeing to be vaccinated. On Thursday, DeWine said that he’s seen a plateau in vaccinations in the first age group to be prioritized — Ohioans 80 and over.
The percentage in that age group “got to 58% and it started creeping,” DeWine said. “It’s over 60, but it’s been slow.”
A glance at DeWine’s Twitter feed reactions shows there’s a constant flow of disinformation about the dangers of coronavirus and the safety of vaccines, but DeWine said he hopes more prosaic factors are to blame for the slowdown. This month’s snow, ice and deep freeze might have made older Ohioans reluctant to leave home to get vaccinated, so the governor said state officials are making efforts to get vaccines to people who can’t get to vaccines.
With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine likely to come online next week, DeWine and his coronavirus team are faced with new questions: That vaccine only requires one dose and is easier to store, so does it make sense to target certain populations, or to give people a choice as to which vaccine they prefer?
Federal officials are meeting Friday and through the weekend as they consider emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. After that, we’ll get much clearer, more detailed information,” DeWine said.