COVID vaccination rates jump; new infections wane

By: - May 24, 2021 12:40 am

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Columbus, Ohio. Source: Columbus Public Health

The rate of Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout leapt over the past 10 days, after roughly six weeks of steady decline.

The trend likely traces back to a combination of the state’s novel “Vaxamillion” lottery drawings, and the federal government authorizing the use of vaccines on children aged 12-15.

Meanwhile, the pace of new infections has gradually slowed down. About 5,300 Ohioans were infected in the week ending May 19 compared to about 14,000 new infections the week ending April 7.

A review of Ohio Department of Health data shows the rate of Ohioans starting the vaccination process nosedived between early April and May 12. At that point, health officials greenlit vaccinations of the younger Ohioans, contributing to some of the recent flurry of immunizations.

Gov. Mike DeWine, that same day, announced a plan to host five, $1 million lottery drawing to vaccinated adult-aged Ohioans and another five full-ride scholarship lottery drawings for younger Ohioans. (Details about the lotteries can be found here.)

On Thursday, Ohio Department of Health officials claimed credit for the uptick, attributing it to the lottery drawings. As evidence, they said vaccinations among Ohioans 16-and-up spiked May 14 after declining through the first weeks of the month.

“We are grateful that the drawings are helping spur Ohioans to take this important measure to protect their health, their loved ones, and their community,” said ODH Director Stephanie McCloud. “Vaccines are our best tool to return to the lives we remember from before the pandemic.”

State data doesn’t allow for analysis of vaccinations by age range, and an ODH spokeswoman did not respond to a request for segmented data this week. On Wednesday, the agency said in a statement that 12-15 year-olds account for about 38,000 of the first doses administered since May 13.

While the data depicts a virus in retreat in Ohio, the pandemic is still alive and well. Nearly 760 Ohioans are currently in the hospital with COVID-19, down from about 1,000 May 10.

ODH does not offer data on the vaccination status of these patients. However, the Cleveland Clinic said of 4,300 hospital admissions between January to mid-April, researchers found 99% of the patients weren’t fully vaccinated.

In similar fashion, COVID-19 new death rates are at their lowest levels of the pandemic. Ohio has hit a double-digit death toll only two days this month — a far cry from December and January when triple-digit death numbers were the norm, once hitting as high as 210 in a single day.

All told, more than 19,700 Ohioans have died of COVID-19. Nearly 58,600 have been hospitalized with the disease during the pandemic.



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Jake Zuckerman
Jake Zuckerman

Jake Zuckerman is a statehouse reporter. He spent three years chronicling the West Virginia Legislature for The Charleston Gazette-Mail after covering cops and courts for The Northern Virginia Daily.