Vaccine still distant for most Ohioans

By: - January 21, 2021 1:00 am

A nurse practitioner receives a COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

The first round of coronavirus vaccinations for the highest-priority Ohioans is wrapping up. 

But with supplies static and millions more in line behind them, as things stand now it will be well into the summer and possibly well beyond before non-priority Ohioans will have access to the vaccine.

Amid setbacks in producing and delivering the vaccine, Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday said that he doesn’t expect the weekly number of doses being delivered to the Buckeye State to increase substantially until March. That’s when the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will hopefully receive regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, many of the highest-priority Ohioans — medical workers and nursing home residents and staff — are awaiting second doses, and 2.2 million are lined up behind them in Phase 1B. That group comprises people over 65, people with severe medical and developmental disorders and adult school workers.

Some back-of-the-envelope math seems to indicate that with about 100,000 doses flowing into the state each week, it will be June before that group will be vaccinated.

Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Melanie Amato wouldn’t confirm that exact timeline, but she conceded that it’s going to be awhile before the second-highest priority group will be vaccinated.

“We don’t know what the exact month will be, but yes, we expect phase 1B to be several months long,” she said in an email.

Completion is far enough off that officials still haven’t determined who will be in the third-highest priority group. Some candidates might be police officers, service workers or prison inmates.

Until that’s determined, we can’t know how many people will be in it. But it seems likely that once it’s completed, many — if not most — of Ohio’s 11.7 million residents will still be waiting.

The incoming Biden administration has vowed to pull out all the stops; to invoke the Defense Production Act and pull other levers of federal power to dramatically ramp up vaccine production, delivery and administration.

Here’s to hoping it succeeds.



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Marty Schladen
Marty Schladen

Marty Schladen has been a reporter for decades, working in Indiana, Texas and other places before returning to his native Ohio to work at The Columbus Dispatch in 2017. He's won state and national journalism awards for investigations into utility regulation, public corruption, the environment, prescription drug spending and other matters.