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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton County, Cincinnati Prep For COVID Vaccine Rollout

coronavirus vaccine
Hans Pennink

Updated: 5:26 p.m.

Ohio's next phase of COVID vaccination starts Jan. 18. Senior citizens in the general public will be eligible to get the shot. But "eligible" and "able" are two different things, according to Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore.

"We have a very limited supply of vaccine and it will take time to move through these populations. I ask you, please be patient with us," Moore says. "Be assured, we will get to everyone when we can."

Next week, Ohioans 80 years old and up can start receiving shots. Each week after that, the age range will drop by five years. Eight-thousand doses are expected for distribution in Hamilton County every week at the current rate. There are an estimated 28,000 residents 80 years or older in Hamilton County.

Governor Mike DeWine said on Thursday that the state would receive 100,000 doses next week, and pointed out there are 425,000 people 80 years of age and older. 

Cincinnati's mayor is taking aim at the Trump administration over the COVID-19 vaccine. John Cranley says local officials are trying to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible, but there just aren't enough doses.

"It was a disastrous decision for the Trump administration not to invoke the Defense Production Act and ramp up more than we have," he says. "I'm appreciative they got it approved so quickly, and they deserve credit for that. But we need a lot more vaccine then we currently have."

Thursday, Hamilton County moved to "purple" on the state's color-coded map indicating spread of the coronavirus. The county meets six of the seven indicators for severe exposure and spread.

Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus says the disease is as bad locally as it's ever been. "To date, 59,783 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Hamilton County. That's one in 14. We've lost 436 residents," she says. "We wish we were getting more vaccine, more quickly, but we cannot control how much vaccine comes into Hamilton County. We can make sure that we are ready to administer vaccines and we can make it as easy as possible for members of the public to sign up for the vaccine as soon as they are eligible."

Cincinnati and Hamilton County have created a website with links to make an appointment to get vaccinated. The site points to local health departments, hospital groups and other vaccination providers. Commissioner Moore says signing up online is the best way to make an appointment, but those people without web access are asked to dial 211.  The city of Cincinnati has a hotline that goes live Tuesday: 513-357-7462.

This story was updated to clarify phone numbers.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio in markets including Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.