COLUMBUS, Ohio — Once the state begins to open up vaccinations to Ohioans 65 and up next week, health officials will hold at that age group “for a number of weeks” while Ohio awaits delivery of more vaccine doses to administer to any of the two million-plus Ohioans who will be eligible and want to receive one.
Now that Ohio is in Phase 1B of vaccine distribution, as of this week, Ohioans age 70 and up and K-12 school employees are eligible and getting vaccinated.
“These vaccinations include adults in buildings, school buildings across the state who interact with students as teachers, long-term substitutes, bus drivers, cafeteria workers or environmental and building services, office personnel, coaches,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday. “And in addition, of course, this week we continue to vaccinate based on age. This week, we are at 70 and up.”
More Ohioans eligible next week
On Monday, the Ohio Department of Health will open up vaccine eligibility to anyone 65 up and hold there “for a number of weeks,” DeWine said.
“We have about two million people in that category of 65 and up, and it will take us a while to go deep into that into that number,” DeWine said.
So far, over half of the population of Ohioans aged 80 and over have received at least the first dose of vaccine, DeWine said.
“We've got a ways to go, but [we’re] moving on that, and the other numbers are creeping up as well,” DeWine said.
Update on vaccine supply
DeWine said Thursday that there is good news on the state’s supply of vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna.
“We’ve talked a lot about the fact that we really do not have enough vaccine,” he said. “We got a lot more people that want the vaccine every day than we have. And it's been our hope this will change.”
DeWine said he spoke directly with Pfizer this week. The company's reps told him they should be able to increase the amount of vaccine available for federal shipment by about 40% sometime in the middle of February.
“We think that that should mean that our numbers will increase,” DeWine said.
Ohio currently receives about 73,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine each week. The drug company told DeWine that it expects the level of vaccine received by the state to double from now by around the end of March.
Doses of the Moderna vaccine have increased from 73,200 weekly doses two weeks ago to about 105,600 doses expected next week, DeWine said. He added that there is an inference that Moderna will continue to expand its supply to the state in the future as well.
“So that is, you know, good news from both of them,” DeWine said. “And we hope that this will continue to get better as we move forward. So we're happy with that news.”
Vaccine data collection
DeWine also took time Thursday to address the collection of data related to vaccine distribution in Ohio, saying that vaccine providers need to improve on data points related to race.
“As of yesterday, February 3, we were showing on our dashboard 13.2% of our vaccine records are listed as unknown race,” he said. “Each provider is responsible for entering race into the state system. And it's really important we look at a lot of different things, frankly, to see how well we're doing and see what we have to improve upon. Race is one indicator.”
DeWine said the state health department is also looking closely at geographical data and vaccine distribution in relation to poverty.
“But all these things we're looking at, because what we're striving for is equality and fairness as this vaccine goes, goes out,” he said. “So we'll continue to do that. We just ask, you know, the hospitals, we asked the health departments, we ask the pharmacies, anybody who is putting shots in arms, just to make sure that that data is filled out, because, again, it helps us inform what we do and helps us learn from what is actually occurring.”
As of Thursday, the vaccine has been started in 935,383 people in Ohio, accounting for 8% of the state’s total population, according to the state's vaccine data dashboard. The vaccine has been started in 638,600 white Ohioans, about 6.68% of the state’s white population. The state data shows just 44,901 (2.94%) Black or African-American Ohio residents have had at least one dose of vaccine. Over 220,000 initial vaccine doses have been given to individuals who were identified as "other" or "unknown" race.
The vaccine has been completed in 238,732 people or about 2.04% of the state’s population.