Updated: 4:32 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2020
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine celebrated the next phase of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Tuesday, broadcasting the inoculation of several seniors during his twice-weekly pandemic update.
The state launched Phase 1B of vaccine distribution Tuesday, and Ohioans age 80 and older are first in line. People in that age group make up more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in the state.
Next week, Ohioans age 75 and up will be eligible.
“If you’re over 80, you’re still eligible, obviously, next week,” DeWine said, “and we know that the majority of people who are 80 did not get it this week, will not be able to get it this week, because of the supply.”
The number of confirmed or probable coronavirus deaths reached 10,336 Tuesday as the national total surpassed 400,000. But new COVID-19 cases in Ohio have generally trended downward in recent days.
“We’re happy that’s down,” the governor said. “This last three or four days, I think we’ve seen kind of a trend downward and we hope that that’s a trend but we really don’t know about that yet.”
A total of 836,055 confirmed or probable cases have been reported in Ohio since the pandemic began.
Vaccinations will begin for school employees Feb. 1, although not all schools will receive the shots that day, DeWine said. Most of Ohio’s public school districts – about 96 percent – have committed to returning to at least partial in-person instruction by March 1, he said.
County developmental disabilities boards will begin contacting Ohioans who have intellectual disabilities and additional serious medical issues, DeWine said. They will be eligible for vaccines starting next week as part of Phase 1B, with that eligibility list also slated to continue to expand through Feb. 15.
Next week, we will open vaccinations for those Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders who make them particularly vulnerable AND who have a developmental or intellectual disability. pic.twitter.com/Gbe7jOHUTt
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) January 19, 2021
As part of Phase 1B, Ohioans as young as 70 will be eligible for the vaccine beginning Feb. 1, and those 65 and over can begin receiving the shot Feb. 8.
Because of the limited vaccine supply, it could it could take time to get through phases 1A and 1B, DeWine cautioned, saying it could be months before Ohio achieves herd immunity through the vaccine.
At the same time, DeWine said he’d has “no indication” that there will be a problem obtaining second shots for those who need their second dose of the vaccine.
“We’re trying to be really careful to tell people, look, our goals are everybody will get it that wants it,” he said. “No one will be forced to take it. We’ll get it out just as fast as we can.”
The arrival of a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus in Ohio was not unexpected, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Tuesday. But he is confident the vaccines – as well as other safety measures – will be effective against coronavirus mutations, too.
“Our first line of defense remains our safety measures, wearing masks, staying apart, avoiding crowds, ventilating indoor spaces, frequent hand-washing,” Vanderhoff said. “We can expect those measures to continue to work against these variants.”
Meanwhile, the state plans a “vigorous campaign” to promote the vaccines, with TV ads beginning to air on Wednesday, DeWine said.