Ohio nursing homes have been one of the frontlines during the pandemic, and Gov. Mike DeWine has repeatedly raised concerns that many employees are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, DeWine that vaccines will not be mandated.
"There is broad consensus in this state to not require people to get shots," DeWine said Tuesday.
Instead of a requirement, DeWine says he will be encouraging those vaccines with a new certification showing how many people in each facility have been vaccinated.
“Certification in the sense, just to tell people X number of people in this nursing home, they've hit the goal," DeWine said. "And I think someone making a decision about a nursing home, they want to know that."
That's despite the outsized impact of the coronavirus on Ohio's nursing homes. So far, 4,856 Ohioans in nursing homes and long term care facilities have died of COVID-19, well over half of the state’s overall COVID death total.
DeWine has said the virus has often been brought in by staff, and yet more than half of those workers have opted to not take the vaccine.
"We're only running about 40% of the staff that's taking the shot the first time around," DeWine said.
The head of the Ohio Health Care Association, which represents many of Ohio's nursing homes and long term care facilities, has said misinformation and fear are keeping workers from considering the vaccine.
“They see on social media that the government is putting microchips in you or the government is putting a vaccine out there that hasn’t been properly studied," said Pete Van Runkle.
DeWine said nursing homes can choose to require their own employees to take the vaccine. But he said educating workers could help change the situation.
"I think education always works better," DeWine said. "People making their own decisions works better. We don't mandate that with other vaccines. We give people options in regard to other vaccines."
The governor said after another round of nursing home vaccines will start on Friday. Within a few weeks, the state will move on to people over 75 years old and then move down the age groups, so DeWine said younger nursing home staff will be encouraged to get the vaccine now or be forced to wait.