COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine outlined three ways the state is ramping up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine across the state this month as Ohio aims to reclaim a sense of normalcy as summer draws near with widespread vaccinations.
Job site vaccinations
The first way the state will ramp up vaccinations will be allowing businesses and organizations to partner with healthcare providers to schedule closed pod vaccinations for employee and organization members.
Beginning Monday, April 12, any vaccine provider in the state can take up to 25% of their vaccine allocation and start conducting vaccinations of their own employees or partner with local employers, labor unions and other organizations to provide the vaccine at their job sites.
For example, DeWine said Nestlé locations in Northeast Ohio, Central Ohio and Southwest Ohio have partnered with Discount Drug Mart to provide vaccinations for Nestlé employees at their facilities.
“We continue to encourage employers and other organizations to reach out to your local health department and vaccine providers to set up these vaccination clinics,” DeWine said.
DeWine said the state is working with all 1,300 vaccine providers to determine which ones are willing to partner with companies and other entities to conduct these job site vaccinations. A list of interested providers will be posted on the state’s website.
High school vaccinations
DeWine said that the state is working with health departments across Ohio to reach out to local high schools to connect with students ages 16, 17 and 18 who want to get vaccinated.
Underage students who are eligible for vaccination need a permission slip from their parents, but having the vaccine made accessible through the schools is a way the state aims to get more shots in arms.
The governor used Columbus Public Health as an example of this initiative in action. The health department and Nationwide Children’s Hospital came together with two local high schools and are currently helping students get their vaccines.
The process of vaccinating high schoolers is already happening across the state and DeWine is hopeful to see it increase.
As for students younger than 16, they are not yet eligible for the vaccine, but the state is hopeful the next age grouping will be able to get their shot soon, according to Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.
“It can’t happen soon enough, but Dr. Vanderhoff has told me he’s pretty encouraged,” DeWine said. “We look forward to that day.”
The third way the state is ramping up vaccinations is by encouraging vaccine providers to partner with public and private colleges and universities to get students vaccinated.
With many colleges out of school for the summer beginning in May, DeWine said last week that there is a limited period of time to vaccinate as many college students as possible before they leave campus and go to their homes around the state.
The process to vaccinate college students will be a multi-week process that is currently underway in the state, DeWine said.
“The evidence clearly shows that they [college students] are significant carriers because of their interactions with other people," DeWine said last week.
DeWine also said the state has been able to adjust the vaccination allocations from where demand has lessened and shift them to mass vaccination sites or more highly-populated areas, while also allocating vaccines to the mobile clinic efforts across the state.
“We’ll continue to make the changes that are needed,” DeWine said.