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'We have to deal with this scarcity' | 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in Ohio next week, with those 80+ next in line

Phase 1B of Ohio's vaccine distribution plan kicks off next Tuesday, starting with those 80 and older. There are roughly 425,000 Ohioans in that age bracket.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that, so far, 361,603 coronavirus shots have been distributed throughout the state.

However, the governor did note during his most recent coronavirus press conference that Ohio is still working with a limited supply. The goal, he said, is to vaccinate everyone in Ohio who wants to be, however, "we're not there yet."

"We have to deal with this scarcity," DeWine said.

The governor reiterated the fact that the number one goal in the state's vaccination process is to save lives, seemingly in defense of his team's choice to prioritize Ohioans in nursing homes in Phase 1A and those 65 and older in Phase 1B.

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

NURSING HOMES

According to DeWine, 54% of all coronavirus-related deaths in the state have come from nursing homes.

"Obviously, that is one of the first places where we wanted to be able to protect people," DeWine said.

There are 930 nursing homes in Ohio. The state partnered with four different pharmacies to tackle vaccine distribution within these facilities. As of Thursday, here is where these pharmacies stand on distrubting their first round of doses.

  • CVS has now gone to 97% of its assigned nursing homes with only 10 left to go.
  • PharmScript has gone to 61 of the 63 facilities it was assigned, with the final two expected to be completed by Thursday evening.
  • Walgreens has gone to 95% of the facilities it has been assigned.
  • Absolute Pharmacy has completely finished distributing the first round of doses to its assigned facilities.

OHIOANS 80+

DeWine said Thursday that 87% of all deaths in the state have occurred in Ohioans 65 and older. 

Next week, the state is set to begin vaccinating those 80 years old and above, with the goal to, every week, move down five years.

The governor warned that the process will take awhile. The state is expecting to receive only 100,000 doses next week. However, there are an estimated 425,000 Ohioans in the 80+ range.

HOW DO I GET MY VACCINE?

If you are 80 or older, beginning Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week, you will be able to find vaccine locations from 750 providers throughout the state, DeWine said. However, as a reminder, not everyone will be able to receive a vaccine right away.

Local health departments have already begun to announce their individual plans for distribution, and have been asked to provide specific vaccine locations in their county on their websites by Friday morning.

Also Friday morning, the state's vaccine finder on coronavirus.ohio.gov will be live, allowing Ohioans to use a pull-down menu to search by county and zip code for available locations.

However, it should be noted, that those individual locations will conduct their own vaccine scheduling. 

Due to the limited amount, to start, the state will be putting vaccine locations in neighborhoods, pharmacies, health departments and clinics in lieu of having one or two big sites in urban areas. He cited long waits at these types of events in other cities as one reason to hold off on incorporating them into the state's initial plan. However, DeWine said he expects Ohio will move to a hybrid system, including both small providers and large distribution events, in the next few weeks when more doses are available.

"We will learn. We will adjust as we move forward," DeWine said. 

SCHOOLS

Another key goal of the state's vaccination effort is to get Ohio students back into the classroom. Teachers and school staff are part of Phase 1B, but schools are required to sign a letter of intent, promising to do their part to get students back to in-person learning by March 1 in order to receive the vaccine.

As of Thursday, DeWine said that almost exactly one-third of Ohio's children are learning in person, five days per week, with another one-third on a hybrid schedule with the remaining one-third still totally remote.

Vaccinations for school staff are expected to begin Feb. 1.

KEY INDICATORS

Credit: Ohio Dept. of Health

PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY MAP

This week, some small changes were noted in the Ohio Advisory System alert map. DeWine said that while health officials are not necessarily seeing a dramatic surge after Christmas and the New Year, there is a bit of an upswing in the state's cases. In response, Hamilton County has upgraded to Level 4 (Purple).

Additionally, Lorain and Clermont were moved to the "watch list" because of increases in healthcare utilization.

Currently, all northwest Ohio counties remain at Level 3 (Red).

Credit: Ohio Department of Health

CASES PER CAPITA AND ICU UTILIZATION

The new cases per capita at the statewide level has increased since last week. "This is not good," DeWine said.

The state was already at an elevated level last week, 657 cases per capita. Now, that number is close to 740. 

Credit: Ohio Department of Health

On the other hand, DeWine said, the number of ICU patients with COVID-19 has gone down slightly. ICU use is a lagging indicator, so this is still coming down from the state's pre-holiday peak. 

However, DeWine said, it does look as though our cases are starting to increase again.

COMPLETE PRESS CONFERENCE

You can watch DeWine's full press conference from Thursday, Jan. 14 in the player below.

TUESDAY

DeWine announced Tuesday that more than 321,000 Ohioans have so far been vaccinated against the coronavirus, with the state less than a week from beginning its next phase in distribution.

During his regular coronavirus press conference, DeWine instructed hospitals to finish vaccinating their personnel by Sunday at midnight, in preparation of Phase 1B. On Monday, these facilities will begin providing doses to Ohioans 80 and older. 

KEY INDICATORS

On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported:

  • 7,981 new cases of coronavirus, compared to the 21-day average of 7,424
  • 100 new coronavirus-related deaths, compared to the 21-day average of 74
  • 486 coronavirus-related hospitalizations, compared to the 21-day average of 299
  • 49 new coronavirus-related ICU admissions, compared to the 21-day average of 31
Credit: Ohio Dept. of Health

RELATED: COVID-19 in Ohio: State reports 7,981 new cases in last 24 hours

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

As of Tuesday, DeWine said that 321,516 Ohioans have been vaccinated.

He noted that, as predicted, the vaccine is scarce. The governor reiterated the state's three goals in terms of vaccination, which are to:

  1. Save lives
  2. Vaccinate healthcare workers on the front lines 
  3. Get schools back in person by March 1.

NURSING HOMES

In an effort to save as many lives as possible, DeWine said his team made a decision very early to put a focus on nursing homes, where the state has seen around half of its deaths. 

As of Tuesday, 85% of the state's nursing homes have been visited by pharmacies, giving those staff members and residents the opportunity to receive the vaccine. 

The state's two veteran's homes have also received the vaccine, with the vast majority of residents opting to take their dose. Staff members, however, had notably low compliance. 

  • In Sandusky, 92% of eligible veterans and 60% of staff have been vaccinated.
  • In Georgetown, 92% of eligible veterans and 42% of staff have been vaccinated.

OHIOANS 65 AND OLDER

DeWine noted that 87% of deaths in the state have come from those over the age of 65, which is one reason why the governor has opted to put these individuals into Phase 1B.

Starting next week, those 80 and older will begin to get the vaccine.

Hospitals have for weeks been vaccinating their personnel, but to prepare for the next phase of distribution, DeWine has instructed these facilities to finish those efforts by midnight on Sunday. 

On Monday, the state's hospitals will need to shift over to vaccinating Ohioans who are 80 or older. 

If a hospital for some reason does not want to do that, DeWine warned the state will take the vaccine back from them, saying, "We really need to move." 

Beginning next week, a total of about 800 providers will begin making the vaccine available to those 80 and older, a group that constitutes about 420,000 people in Ohio.

As of Tuesday, DeWine said he believes the state will have about 100,000 doses to distribute next week. However, this number could still change.

Shipments will start arriving in Ohio Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, as they do each week. However, DeWine said it won't be known until the weekend, which provider will receive a shipment on which day.

DeWine said that providers should start giving out doses the day after their shipment arrives. They've been asked to complete this process within seven days.

How do I know where to go to my vaccine?

Local health departments have been advised to hold press conferences on Wednesday or Thursday, providing information on where and when those living in their respective counties can receive their vaccine.

Area agencies on aging are not the ones putting shots in the arms, but DeWine said they are the ones to call with questions about the vaccine, if you have a problem with transportation to receive your vaccine, etc. 

For more information, go to the Ohio Dept. of Aging website here or call 1-866-243-5678.

PHASE 1B SCHEDULE

DeWine said Tuesday that the Phase 1B group contains a total of about 2.2 million people.

As it stands, the current Phase 1B distribution schedule is as follows:

  • Ohioans 80 and older - Jan. 19
  • Ohioans 75 and older - Jan. 25
  • School staff - Feb. 1
  • Ohioans 70 and older - the week of Feb. 1
  • Ohioans 65 and older - Feb. 8
Credit: WTOL

When a new age range opens, it doesn't mean the previous age range has been completed, only that the new one has been added, DeWine clarified.

Notably left out of the current schedule, are those with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders, although they are a part of Phase 1B distribution. 

DeWine said more information on vaccination opportunities for those individuals will be announced in the coming days.

VACCINE DASHBOARD

A new tool will be launched Thursday on the state's coronavirus website, allowing people to see who is distributing vaccinations in their counties and information on who qualifies.

The state site will only show what providers have been allocated vaccines, it will not update in real-time. So, when a particular provider runs out of the vaccine, it won't show up on the state site, DeWine said. However, that information will be available from the individual provider.

NATIONAL GUARD

On Tuesday, DeWine signed an order authorizing 580 members of the Ohio National Guard into state active duty. 

This activation allows them to begin training in preparation to assist during the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., however, they will also assist within the state of Ohio.

"People have the right to protest. They do not have the right to be destructive or hurt other people. We welcome peaceful protesters, but we saw what happened at the Capitol, so we are concerned," DeWine said.