COLUMBUS, Ohio - Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that the pharmaceutical companies that are vaccinating Ohio nursing home residents and staff are mostly finished with the first doses and are making progress on the second.
Meantime, DeWine said that hes told hospitals they need to finish their staff vaccination programs by Sunday and switch to begin vaccinating Ohioans age 80 and older.
At 8 a.m. Friday, the state will post information at coronavirus.ohio.gov that will show all the sites where vaccines will be available for the 1B group, for which vaccinations are set to begin Monday. Initially, there will be 750 sites. DeWine said he wants the sites to be spread fairly between rural and urban areas, and among different racial and economic groups.
Nursing homes, frontline health care workers and EMS staff are in the A1 group. Their vaccines are being completed.
On Monday, Ohioans age 80 and older are to begin getting shots.
About 425,000 Ohioans are in this age subgroup, one of several within the 2.2 million 1B priority group. The state is expected to receive 100,000 vaccine doses over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by 100,000 doses a week for the next several weeks. That means scarcity will continue to be an issue, DeWine said.
DeWine described the following progress in the nursing homes:
-CVS reports that it has given a first shot to 97% of nursing homes that it has been assigned to in Ohio. As of Thursday morning, it only had 10 remaining sites where it needed to begin first doses.
-PharmaScript has given first shots at 61 of the 63 homes it was assigned in Ohio. It had two left and told DeWines office Thursday morning it intended to visit them later in the day.
-Walgreens has visited 95% of the 398 assigned facilities for first doses.
-Absolute Pharmacy has finished its first dose at each Ohio nursing home it was assigned.
The pharmacy companies are working on administering second doses too. Vaccine supply will not be an issue for the nursing homes because when they were allocated vaccine vials, they were allocated both doses.
Anecdotally, at least what were seeing, is when they go back into those nursing homes the second time, were seeing more staff take it, DeWine said.
At the beginning of Ohios vaccine effort, DeWine had reported that 60% of staff at some homes were rejecting the opportunity to get shots. The pharmaceutical companies visit each home three times.
The four pharmaceutical companies were part of a federal nursing home vaccination program that began in Ohio. And Ohio is the farthest along in nursing home vaccinations, DeWine said.
DeWine explained a bit more about some of his thought process as he made Ohios vaccination plan.
Unlike states such as Florida, where large swaths of the population were eligible for the vaccine at the same time and there were reports of seniors waiting for hours for their turn at mass vaccination sites, DeWine said he opted for a more decentralized, neighborhood and community vaccine effort. He said he was concerned about geographic, racial, economic and other fairness issues that could result if he just set up a few of mass vaccination sites in the large urban areas.
Thats not to say there wont be mass vaccination centers eventually.
We will continue to adjust, he said.
Included in the 1B group will be people age 65 and older -- their eligibility will be phased in weekly over the next month -- school employees and people with severe congenital, degenerative and early onset conditions. Those specific conditions will be announced soon.
We will have a more comprehensive definition of that and we will talk about that more next week, probably next Thursday, a week from today, DeWine said.
Many Ohioans suffer from medical conditions such as cancer, heart problems, lung issues and Type II diabetes who are antsy for a vaccine, too. DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said they are not in the 1B group.
When we look at the data, the data tells us very clearly the No. 1 risk related to mortality from COVID is age, Vanderhoff said, which is why older Ohioans are prioritized for 1B.
The majority of the people who die of COVID-19 are age 65 and above. This age group represents about 87% of the deaths.
DeWine said he is aware that many people with conditions such as cancer have more fragile health.
We are trying to continue to look at this, he said. I know theres a little frustration. People say, Where do I come in in the queue? Youve only announced 1A, 1B, he said. ... So were trying to look at that and come up with something that is equitable and fair and protects people the most.