Coronavirus: Ohio prepares for Phase 1B as vaccinations continue at nursing homes

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Ohio is preparing to distribute coronavirus vaccines for Phase 1B recipients next week, beginning with people ages 80 and older.

Approximately 100,000 doses will be shipped out to 750 providers across the state next week, Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.

The state opted to use hundreds of providers instead of a few large-scale providers in urban areas to make the vaccine accessible to different people.

“We felt to start with the limited number we have, putting [the vaccine] in neighborhoods, pharmacies, local health departments and federal health clinics around the community was the way to go,” DeWine said.

By giving people more options as to where they can get vaccinated, they are less likely to wait hours in line, he added. However, as distribution continues and more vaccines are available, Ohio may start adding some larger vaccination clinics.

To make sure that Ohioans know where and how they can get vaccinated, Ohio has asked local health departments to post where vaccine will be available on their websites by Friday morning.

The Ohio Department of Health will also unveil a new tool Friday that shows where vaccine providers are throughout the state. People will be able to search at by county and ZIP code.

The different locations receiving the vaccine will do their own scheduling, DeWine said. Ohio is working on developing a statewide scheduling tool.

As the state prepares to expand coronavirus vaccinations, DeWine asked Ohioans to remain patient.

“Our goal is to eventually vaccinate anyone in Ohio who wants a vaccination,” he said. “We must take this one week at a time. We want to save lives, get our kids back to school and protect our frontline medical responders. These goals drive every decision we make.”

In Phase 1B, Ohio is focusing on vaccinating the state’s most vulnerable people. Ohioans 65 years and older account for 87% of the state’s coronavirus deaths, DeWine said.

Ohio has opted to start Phase 1B with the first week dedicated to vaccinating people 80 and older.

Distribution will then expand each week under the following schedule:

  • Week of Jan. 18: Jan. 19: Ohioans 80 and older
  • Week of Jan. 25: Ohioans 75 and older; people with severe medical conditions
  • Week of Feb. 1: Ohioans 70 and older; K-12 staff and personnel
  • Week of Feb. 8: Ohioans 65 and older

More information about what medical conditions will be considered severe and how those people can get vaccinated will be available next week, DeWine said.

A federal program administering vaccines to nursing home residents and staff through pharmacies is wrapping up with its first round of visits in Ohio and beginning second trips.

The four pharmacies, CVS, Walgreens, PharmScript and Absolute Pharmacy, will visit assigned facilities three times to vaccinate staff and residents. During the second visit, pharmacies will administer second shots those who received their first vaccine during the first visit, as well as anyone administer first shots to people who did not get the vaccine during the first visit.

On the third trip, second doses will be distributed to those who received their first dose during the second visit.

CVS has made its first stop at 97% of its assigned facilities and had 10 nursing homes left to visit as of Thursday morning, DeWine said.

Walgreens has held clinics at 95% of the 398 nursing homes who signed up for vaccines. The pharmacy has distributed more vaccines in Ohio than any other state participating in the federal program.

Pharm Script has visited 61 of its 63 assigned facilities. Its scheduled to distribute vaccines at both of the remaining nursing homes today.

Absolute Pharmacy has finished its first round of visits at nursing homes.

The governor said he’s been told that more staff and residents who initially opted out of receiving the vaccine during the first visit are getting vaccinated during the second visits.

So far, 361,603 people in Ohio have received their first dose of the vaccine. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots.

More than 800,000 total cases of coronavirus have been reported in Ohio throughout the pandemic, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The state added 7,654 cases Thursday, bringing its total to 807,293.

Deaths increased by 109 for a total of 9,990.

As of Thursday, Ohio hospitals had 3,789 coronavirus patients. It’s the fourth straight day inpatients dropped and the second day in a row hospitals had less than 4,000 COVID-19 patients.

In southwest Ohio, there were 1,061 hospitalized coronavirus patients, with 269 in ICUs and 201 on ventilators.

COVID-19 patients account for 14.65% of hospital beds in the region. There are 2,311 beds (31.91%) available, according to ODH.

In southwest Ohio ICUs, there are 256 (22.30%) beds available with coronavirus patients accounting for 23.43% of total beds.

As of Thursday, the state has recorded 42,491 hospitalizations throughout the pandemic, including 340 reported in the last 24 hours. Ohio has attributed 6,289 ICU admissions to the virus, including 37 reported on Thursday.

DeWine noted that Ohio has not seen a “dramatic surge” in cases since the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, but there is a “bit of an upswing.”

“The new cases per capita at the statewide level has increased since last week - this is not good,” he said. “We were already at a very elevated level at 657 cases per capita last week, and now we’re close to 740.”

However, ICU patients have decreased from an average of 28.8% in Ohio last week to 26.8%.

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