Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday said the state will keep its roster of people eligible for the coronavirus vaccine at age 65 and older for the foreseeable future in order to make sure "the most vulnerable in the state of Ohio" are vaccinated before moving on to another group. DeWine declined to give a date of when he would announce the next group in line to receive the vaccine.
"People have a right to be impatient, but be persistent, hang in, we're going to stay at this age until we feel we have a large number of people at this age vaccinated," he said in response to a reporter's question about when more Ohioans could expect to see "the light at the end of the tunnel."
He said the state is still looking at when to set a date for the next group of eligible Ohioans, which he also did not detail. "Over 700 groups have sent us letters and indicated they want to go next and so we're trying to go through that and weigh that," he said.
DeWine first announced he would hold the vaccine rollout at age 65 on Feb. 8 in order to vaccinate the 2.2 million people in what's known as Group 1B. That group also includes teachers and school staff, some of which have come under fire from the governor and others for not upholding an agreement to return to some form of in-person learning by March 1 in order to have their staff vaccinated.
At the time, DeWine said the state was committing about 100,000 doses a week for seniors and diverting the rest to teachers just for the month of February.
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Ohio trails 38 other states when it comes to vaccinating its residents, something DeWine disputes. "First of all, (that) data is really not right," he recently told WBNS in Columbus. "Let me start with ... congregate care settings, assisted living nursing homes. You know, we're fifth in the nation in getting shots in arms with people who are the most vulnerable people."
Ohio's Recent Weather Likely To Slow Down Vaccine Rollout
Meanwhile, the governor said those eligible should expect a slight delay in vaccine availability given recent snow that has blanketed much of the state. He said manufactures Moderna and Pfizer have already told him some shipments will be delayed by a day or two, and that the state has notified providers of these delays.
"We expect to see a slowdown in the shipments and obviously that's going to mean a slowdown - for a little while at least - in the number of people who can be vaccinated in Ohio," he said.
Answering Your Questions
For those with questions about the vaccine and its rollout, the state is holding four virtual town halls featuring medical experts and local leaders. The aim is to provide facts and dispel myths about the vaccine.
"We understand that there are many Ohioans across the state who may be ambivalent about taking the vaccine," said Ursel McElroy, director of Ohio's Department of Aging. "We also know that providing accurate information and increasing access can help in that personal decision making."
While the each town hall targets a specific community, DeWine said anyone can join any session.
All events take place from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and will be available on the Ohio Department of Health's Facebook page, YouTube channel and at coronavirus.ohio.gov, as well as additional dates on the Ohio Channel that are yet to be announced.
- Monday, Feb. 22 -- African American Ohioans
- Tuesday, Feb. 23 -- Hispanic/Latino Ohioans
- Monday, March 1 -- Asian American and Pacific Islander Ohioans
- Tuesday, March 2 -- Rural Ohioans
Additional reporting by Andy Chow.