COLUMBUS, Ohio — An average of about 146,000 initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been coming into Ohio each week, and as the state enters Phase 1B of vaccine distribution, more doses that were not used by staff and residents at congregate care facilities will be available weekly to seniors, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Tuesday.
Nursing homes, senior living centers and other facilities
There are 953 nursing homes in Ohio, and the state is second in the nation for the number of people in nursing homes getting vaccinated, DeWine said.
Beginning Feb. 8, Ohio will be taking vaccines directly into affordable senior housing locations, which is the home to several thousand older Ohioans throughout the state, DeWine said.
“The threat of serious illness and death from COVID-19 is high in affordable senior housing settings due to the age of residents, the ease of spread in clustered housing complexes, the isolation of many residents who may not have access to information about how to get the vaccine,” DeWine said.
The state is working with local partners to provide onsite clinics to ease the burden of registration and transportation for elderly residents. In advance of setting up these clinics, the state will provide a resource guide to educate residents about the vaccine.
“Further, we have a variety of communication and education strategies aimed at minority communities, including upcoming town halls, paid and earned media, and a toolkit for our community partners to address vaccine hesitancy in their networks,” DeWine said.
In state-run developmental centers, 89% of residents have accepted the vaccine, DeWine said. In state-run psychiatric hospitals, 73% of long-term patients have accepted it. Ninety-two percent of veterans have accepted the vaccine in state-run veterans homes.
Phased vaccinations for older Ohioans
At the beginning of the vaccine rollout, the state was required to put aside a set number of vaccines – enough to vaccinate 100% of staff and residents. Because only some of these Ohioans decided to get the vaccine – less than 50% in some cases - those extra doses will be made available to older Ohioans, DeWine said. The governor said that the state has an additional 77,000 initial doses that will be spread over the next two weeks.
The phased rollout of the vaccine means that Ohioans 75 and older will be eligible for the vaccine this week, those 70 and older next week, and those 65 and older will be able to get the vaccine the week after that. Because that group is so large, the state will hold on dropping the age eligibility.
Vaccines for school staff
DeWine has set a goal for every staff member at every school in Ohio to have the option to get their first shot of vaccine in the month of February, beginning Feb. 1. DeWine said that some individuals will be able to get their second vaccine dose in February as well.
The schools that will start with staff vaccinations as early as next week have been notified as to when vaccines will be available to them, and the rest of the state’s schools should know by Friday when they have the chance to be vaccinated, and who their vaccine provider will be.
DeWine said that a mix of health departments, pharmacies and urgent care centers will provide the vaccine to school staff.
The goal of beginning vaccination of school staff in February is in service of the goal to have every student back to in-classroom learning by March 1.