DeWine outlines vaccine distribution plan
- Published: December 4, 2020
Ohio is about 10 days away from receiving its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. Frontline health care workers, emergency medical personnel and residents and staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other congregate living settings will be the first recipients of the vaccine, Gov. Mike DeWine announced at a press briefing on Friday, Dec. 4.
Those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. In Ohio, 10% of all cases and over 50% of all deaths have occurred among individuals in these settings, according to state figures.
Ohio made decisions about “first priority” groups for the vaccine based on the goals of saving lives, covering the most vulnerable, slowing the spread of the virus and protecting health care workers, DeWine said. Not all individuals in these groups will be able to be vaccinated initially, however, as vaccine quantities are limited.
About 660,000 vaccine doses from two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have been definitely or tentatively scheduled for shipment to Ohio this month along the following timeline:
- On or around Dec. 15, Pfizer will ship 9,750 doses to some “prepositioned” Ohio hospitals and 88,725 doses to Walgreens and CVS for distribution to congregate care settings.
- On or around Dec. 22, Moderna will ship 201,000 doses of its vaccine to 98 hospitals and 108 health departments in the state. Hospitals will prioritize health care workers and other personnel who care for those with COVID-19, and local health departments will distribute to emergency medical personnel and home health care workers.
- Also on or around Dec. 22, Pfizer is expected to ship 123,000 doses (a tentative number) to Walgreens and CVS for distribution to nursing home residents and staff.
- A few days later, Pfizer is expected to ship an additional 148,000 doses (a tentative number) and Moderna 89,000 doses, again for distribution to identified priority groups.
Both companies’ vaccines are awaiting approval from the FDA. Two review meetings, one at the FDA involving non-governmental experts and one at the CDC, are scheduled just ahead of the Dec. 15 shipment. Based on extensive clinical trials that have shown 95% effectiveness for each vaccine with no significant adverse side effects, approval is widely expected.
The new vaccines require two doses to be effective. DeWine clarified that the initial shipments would enable the vaccination of about 660,000 people, not half that number. The timeline assumes that a second dose will follow several weeks later to the individuals who received the first dose, DeWine said.
Joseph Gastaldo, head of infectious disease at Ohio Health, lauded the vaccine development at Friday’s briefing, calling it “the first major step to getting us back to a pre-COVID way of life.”
However, it could be many months before vaccinations are widespread enough to permit the full lifting of pandemic restrictions, experts have cautioned. DeWine has yet to specify plans for vaccinating the remaining 11 million Ohioans.
“Our goal is to get to the average 40-year-old in good health,” DeWine said of the scope of the overall vaccination plan, adding that he was “not sure” when vaccines would reach that lower-risk group. Essential workers, Ohioans over 65 and those with certain health conditions are among the groups that would likely be vaccinated in the coming months ahead of younger and healthier state residents.
The new vaccines are for adults only, and may not be safe for children. Trials of pediatric vaccines are just now getting underway, according to the New York Times.
Some resistance is expected to the vaccine itself, with about one-half of Ohioans expressing skepticism about COVID-19 vaccination, DeWine stated at the briefing. He added in response to a question that he would consider taking the vaccine publicly to encourage confidence in its safety.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise in Ohio. On Dec. 4, the state reported 10,114 new cases, 392 new hospitalizations and 129 additional deaths. The case number was the state’s third-highest ever for a single 24-hour period.
Ohio has now seen a total of 456,963 cases, 28,673 hospitalizations and 6,882 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
In the face of dramatic spread of the virus and escalating hospitalizations, DeWine said the additional measures recently put in place — including an overnight curfew and new mask enforcement in retail settings — were helpful, but not enough.
“They have not helped enough,” he said. “We’re clearly going to have to do more.” He did not specify what additional measures Ohio might take, however.
And in another part of Friday’s briefing, DeWine announced that the state would now follow the CDC’s modified quarantine guidance. Rather than require the full 14 days of quarantine, the new guidance specifies that people potentially exposed to the virus should quarantine for 10 days without a COVID-19 test and seven days with a negative test, provided they do not have symptoms of the illness.
While 14 days continues to be the recommended quarantine period, the shorter timeframes are now offered as options to encourage people to comply with quarantines and help slow the virus’ spread.
Quarantine “only works when we actually stick with it,” DeWine said.
A local update on COVID-19 in Yellow Springs and Greene County will appear in the Dec. 10 issue of the News.