Ohio expands eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines to 40 and up, some others
Ohio’s eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines will be extended this week to those 40 years of age and older and those with additional conditions such as cancer and obesity, Governor Mike DeWine announced at a news conference Tuesday morning in Cleveland.
And by the end of the month, all Ohioans 16 and older can get the vaccine.
Eligibility begins Friday for approximately 766,000 Ohioans in Phase 1E, including those ages 16 and older with cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and obesity.
Phase 2C also begins on Friday – those over 40, including around 818,000 Ohioans between 40 and 49 years of age.
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On March 29, all Ohioans 16 and older can get the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for people aged 16 and over, while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines are only approved for people aged 18 and over.
DeWine was in Cleveland for the “soft launch” of the first state-coordinated COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic in Ohio at the Wolstein Center of Cleveland State University.
Operation Magnus – named after the CSU Viking mascot – is expected to fire around 210,000 Northeast Ohioans over the next eight weeks.
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The increase in eligibility, DeWine says, is due not only to a steady influx of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but also an expected influx of the unique Johnson & Johnson strain later this month.
DeWine says Ohioans can expect a more robust availability of shots from the 1,300 vendors scattered across the state in the coming weeks, and soon to open state mass vaccination sites in Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, and other locations (see below).
Smaller pop-up temporary vaccination sites will become available in communities across the state as the availability of the one-off Johnson & Johnson vaccine increases, DeWine said.
By Tuesday, around 2.4 million Ohioans had received at least one dose of vaccine – that’s roughly one-fifth of the state’s total population.
DeWine said he received a vaccine Tuesday morning with some of the first Ohioans, given by medics from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, at the Wolstein Center.
“The response was one of relief and happiness,” he said. “This is a great day.”
However, DeWine cautioned that while the Ohioans show promise, the Ohioans are still contracting the potentially deadly virus.
“The virus is still very, very much out there,” he said. “This is a race.”
And that’s why mass hospitals like the one in Cleveland, which opened in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are vital.
It is the first such site in the state, and all vaccines distributed are in addition to the state’s usual federal government allocation.
Kevin M. Sligh, FEMA deputy regional administrator, said the site was chosen because of its proximity to underserved populations who might otherwise have difficulty accessing the vaccine.
Working with community groups, Sligh said, some of the vaccines and appointment times have been set aside to ensure fair distribution to those who may not have access to the technology to schedule an appointment or find the means to get into the arena to get.
Special, free bus shuttles and sufficient free parking spaces have been set up around the Wolstein Center.
Sligh said he knew firsthand the dangers of the virus as some of his close family members, including his mother and grandmother, had both contracted the coronavirus.
They all survived, but Sligh said he knows other families weren’t so lucky.
“This is priority # 1 for people of color and all Ohioans,” he said.
DeWine said he believes Ohio is finally at a tipping point and everyone can do their part by continuing to keep social distancing, wearing a mask, and signing up to get the vaccine.
“This is a lifesaver,” he said. “This enables you to live your life and get your life back.”
Who Can Get The Shot In Ohio Right Now?
Ohioans age 50 and older, as well as others based on health conditions and occupations, can currently be vaccinated at mass clinics and pharmacies nationwide. To sign up for the mass clinics and pharmacies, go to gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-427-5634.
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Mass vaccination clinic with national guard and army troops
DeWine was at the clinic Tuesday morning with Acting Administrator of FEMA Region 5 Kevin Sligh, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, and Cleveland State University President Harlan Sands.
The super vaccination center at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center is the largest of its kind, coordinated by the federal government, and is staffed by a combination of Ohio National Guard and Army forces.
It will vaccinate 1,500 on the first day and then increase the vaccinations by an additional 1,500 on the following days until it reaches its 6,000 capacity.
The initially lower number of vaccinations enables the 200 guardsmen in Ohio and 217 medical personnel of the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell Kentucky to solve logistical problems.
More mass vaccination sites in Ohio will follow shortly
The state is also planning to set up more mass vaccination clinics across Ohio. DeWine has announced that they are expected to open later this month.
These websites include:
• Chapel Hill Mall, Brittain Road 2000, Akron (Summit County Public Health)
• Knights of Columbus, 810 S. Cable Road, Lima (Allen County Public Health)
• Lucas County Recreation Center, 2901 Key St., Maumee (Lucas County Public Health)
• Dayton Convention Center, 22 E. Fifth Street, Dayton (Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery Counties)
• Celeste Center, 717 E. 17th Ave., Columbus (Columbus Public Health)
• Cintas Center at Xavier University, Herald Ave. 1624, Cincinnati (Kroger, Cincinnati Health Department, Hamilton County Public Health, and The Health Collaborative)
• Adena PACCAR Medical Training Center, 446 Hospital Road, Chillicothe (Adena Health System)
• Marietta Memorial Hospital, 401 Matthew St., Marietta (Marietta Memorial Hospital)
• Colony Square Mall (Elder Beerman), 3575 Maple Ave., Zanesville (Genesis Health)
• Wilmington Air Park, 1113 Airport Road, Wilmington (Kroger)
Craig Webb, who will receive the vaccine on Friday, can be reached at [email protected] Emily Mills contributed to this report.