CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio medical and health department experts are optimistic and enthusiastic about Gov. Mike DeWine opening up vaccine availability to an additional 900,000 Ohioans, but are also hoping vaccine supply will increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months.
DeWine announced Ohioans 60 and older will be eligible to get the vaccine starting on March 4, but Dr. Robyn Stoskaer, chief operating officer with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, told News 5 while vaccine supply is increasing, more will be needed soon.
“It’s great news that we’ll be able to get to some of these other age groups," Strosaker said. “We don’t know exactly when it will arrive. The supply really is increasing, which is important and it certainly makes me hopeful.”
She added, “We need a lot more vaccine to be able to accommodate these new classifications. We are still probably weeks away from making it through our list of 65 and above, making it through the 1B, so we need a lot more vaccine in circulation.”
“We still have the challenges of the multi-dose vials, so even with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which can be kept in a refrigerator, once you puncture that vial, you have to use all six doses within 6 hours," Strosaker said.
Gail Davis, board president with Lakewood Child Care Center, told News 5 she is elated early childcare workers across the state have now been placed on the vaccine list but hopes this group isn't kept waiting too long for its first doses.
“I know what it means for our teachers and our staff," Davis said. “Our teachers can hopefully get at least their first shots before the end of the month. I think anything less than that would disappointing."
"I’m optimistic that we’re going to see, over the course of this next month, a drastic increase in production," she said.
Ron Graham, commissioner with the Lake County General Health District, said his agency had 52,000 residents register for the vaccine, but low supply has allowed his team to so far get to about 20,000. Still, Graham is optimistic Ohio will meet its supply and demand challenges.
“The hardest thing, we’re still trying to get those 65 and above, the older adults, and it just leads to more competition to try and figure out how we get in these other special groups," Graham said. With Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine coming out, we’re very excited about that, we believe that will be more palatable to the small physician offices.”
Donna Skoda, health commissioner with Summit County Health, said she too is optimistic, and hopes to have more vaccine supply information later this week.
“It’s just getting enough vaccines to be able to get it to them," Skoda said.
“We’ll take Pfizer, we’ll take Moderna, we’ll take Johnson and Johnson, anything we can get our hands on we’ll take. The governor told us in the next two weeks, we should expect to see big increases. Today the governor told us each local health department might get 300 to 400 doses.”