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Ohio slow to release next steps in COVID vaccine rollout plan

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Posted at 7:40 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 11:06:46-05

CLEVELAND — More than 12% of Ohio’s population has received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as phase 1B of the state’s rollout plan continues for the time being, with the state pausing at vaccinating Ohioans age 65 and up.

But the question a lot of us are wondering is who’s up next?

The problem is there are simply no answers.

The state has yet to release any details on next steps and Gov. Mike DeWine has said in recent press conferences that his team is still trying to figure it out themselves. They seem to be struggling to answer their own questions; who in line is most vulnerable and how do we save the most lives?

“We're not satisfied with where we are. I don't think any state is satisfied with where they are, but going into the communities and talking with leaders of the community and then listening to their advice is clearly the most important thing that we can do,” DeWine said.

CDC Guidelines on Vaccine Distribution

While Ohioans continue to wait in limbo and looking to state leaders to prioritize their need for the COVID vaccine, guidelines to help streamline the process are being ignored.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommended an order to help distribute vaccines. According to its website, the recommendations were made with goals to “decrease death and serious disease as much as possible, preserve functioning of society, and reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities.”

The CDC's list starts with its 1B group including health care providers and frontline workers like police officers, grocery store workers, teachers, daycare and public transit employees. Their first group also includes those considered at greater risk of contracting COVID, specifically those ages 75 and up.

The following group includes those ages 65 to 74 followed by those ages 16 to 64. Finally, the CDC recommends bringing in other essential workers like those in housing, food service, public health. Even law and media professions are listed.

However, states clearly don’t have to follow this order and Ohio is no exception.

“It's a work in progress. We have not brought everybody in because we can't bring everybody in, but we're going to continue to bring people in as we move forward,” said DeWine.

Schools still under pressure

Despite the uncertainty, schools currently working through vaccine distribution to teachers and staff are still being urged to get back to the classroom in some capacity by March 1.

Akron Public Schools sent surveys out to families asking them what they want to do regarding remote and in-person learning. As of now, the district is operating on a hybrid model. However, school officials are reevaluating the district’s plan to possibly bring students back to the classroom full-time sooner.

A board meeting discussing suggestions on how to move forward is set for Monday, February 22.

Click here to watch.

COVID Vaccine Town Halls helping with misinformation

The Ohio Department of Health is hosting its first of many “COVID Vaccine Town Hall” Monday, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. The goal is to give people access to information about the vaccine, answer questions and confront any myths surrounding vaccinations.

Medical experts, community leaders and faith-based leaders will lead the discussions.

The first meeting will focus on information specific to African American communities.

Here is the list of the following Town Hall meetings:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. – Hispanic/Latino Ohioans
  • Monday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m. – Asian American and Pacific Islander Ohioans
  • Tuesday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. – Rural Ohioans

You can watch live or on-demand after the meetings using the following links:

For those who don’t have internet access, the meetings will air on public access TV on the Ohio Channel starting. Find your local channel and the date and time it will air by checking with your PBS station or television provider.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated that Phase 1B of Ohio’s vaccination rollout schedule had ended, and Phase 1C had started. This is not accurate - Phase 1B is still ongoing with vaccinations available to Ohioans age 65 and up, and the state has not yet released details on their Phase 1C.