Governor Mike DeWine on Tuesday offered multiple updates related to COVID-19 vaccines in Ohio.
Ohio has been averaging about 146,000 first doses coming into the state every week. As Ohio’s Phase 1A begins to wind down, more doses will be available for those in Phase 1B.
Ohio is second in the nation for the number of people vaccinated in nursing homes, however, because not all residents and staff are choosing to receive the vaccine, according to DeWine. Ohio will begin directing approximately 77,000 vaccines set aside to use in nursing homes to others in Phase 1A and 1B.
Ohio has put focus on vaccinating members of the public living in congregate settings because these individuals are especially vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, the governor said. In Ohio’s state-run developmental centers, 89% of residents have accepted the vaccine; 73% of long-term patients in state-run psychiatric hospitals have accepted the vaccine; a total of 92% of veterans in state-run veterans homes have accepted the vaccine. Of those with developmental disabilities not living in state-run facilities, 5,500 people have been vaccinated so far.
Next week, Ohio will make the vaccine available to 91,000 K-12 teachers and school personnel who are necessary to provide in-person education to students. Like other groups eligible in Phase 1B of Ohio’s vaccination program, this will be a rolling process beginning with Cincinnati Public Schools, which will actually begin offering vaccinations to their staff later this week.
Due to the scarcity of vaccine, the process will take weeks, but Ohio’s goal is to have all first doses administered by the end of February. To be eligible to receive vaccine, districts had to commit to remaining or returning to in-person learning full-time or in a hybrid model by March 1.
Districts that are eligible to begin receiving vaccines next week should have already received notification, and the rest should be notified of their scheduled dates by the end of the week.
No districts in the area are on the state’s list to receive the vaccine next week.
Teachers and staff with questions should contact their administrator.
DeWine also announced that, in pursuit of fairness and equity in the distribution of the scarce vaccines, Ohio will be delivering vaccines directly into affordable senior housing locations starting the week of Feb. 8. These senior housing facilities are home to several thousand older Ohioans throughout the state and are often residential clusters with apartment buildings ranging in units from 30 to over 200.
The Ohio Department of Health will be working with local partners to offer assistance through on-site clinics. These clinics will help ease the burden for many seniors having trouble navigating the registration process and arranging transportation.
Pfizer vaccine doses
In many instances, a vial of the Pfizer vaccine can provide six vaccine doses. Some vaccine providers have been able to extract this sixth dose as much as 90% of the time based on technique and supplies. These supplies, however, have had limited availability nationally. The key to getting the sixth dose is having access to syringes with low or zero dead volume and, when clinically appropriate, using a one-inch vaccine needle.
The Ohio Department of Health surveyed best practices across the state and have determined that it is possible to reliably extract a sixth dose using a hybrid model of traditional syringes for four doses and the less-available low dead volume syringes for doses five and six.
This approach conserves limited special syringe supply. The Ohio Department of Health will be working with vaccine providers to share this information and provide further guidance to assist them with implementation.