COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is calling on hospitals to speed up administering the COVID-19 vaccines, saying Wednesday that he's not satisfied with the pace so far.
He wants hospitals to be able to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of receiving it.
One problem that has come up, DeWine said, is that a hospital will set up a day to give out the vaccine and then not receive it in time.
“There's a moral imperative to get it out just as quickly as we can,” he said, adding that he's not blaming anyone for the delays seen at some hospitals.
DeWine also announced Wednesday that he is extending the state's overnight coronavirus curfew for three more weeks until Jan. 23.
In another new move, the state will no longer force students or teachers to stay away from school and quarantine at home if they were exposed to the virus in the classroom — as long as the students and teachers were properly wearing masks.
The latest directives come as the vaccines continue to roll out to frontline medical workers, nursing home caregivers and residents across Ohio.
The state expects to receive about 240,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines next week.
Pharmacies administering the shots inside nursing homes are on track with meeting their timeline goals, DeWine said.
So far, about 80% of nursing home residents are agreeing to get the vaccine, he said. But the governor said he's concerned that 60% of nursing home workers are turning down the injections.
“What I'm worried about are people who aren't taking it,” he said. “This is the opportunity for you.”
Columbus Public Health Director Dr. Mysheika Roberts said the focus is on vaccinating those in healthcare, fire/EMS workers, those in nursing homes or assisted living.
“I will tell you that it’s been a bit of a disappointment in the last seven to eight days that we’ve had the vaccine that many people who we thought would be eager to get the vaccine have been reluctant,” Dr. Roberts said.
Of the 2,000 Columbus Division of Fire paramedics and EMS workers, Dr. Roberts says about a fourth of them have been vaccinated.
She feels the holiday weeks is playing a role in this.
“Many people have taken off, they’ve reduced their hours, they’re spending time with family and friends and getting a COVID-19 vaccine isn’t high on their list on priorities. So I’m very optimistic that next week we’re going to see more and more people, now that the holidays are over, coming in to get their vaccine,” Dr. Roberts said.
Gov. Mike DeWine and local health experts have mentioned vaccine hesitancy or people passing up the opportunity of getting the shot.
“I definitely think there’s vaccine hesitancy for many in our community. You know what we’ve heard from some people is 'I want the vaccine, I just don’t want to be first, you know. I want to see how it goes with other people',” Dr. Roberts said.
That’s why their department is working with community leaders, ad agencies for a campaign, influencers and healthcare systems to educate about the vaccine.
Dr. Roberts said after that, people can make their decision on whether they want to get the vaccine or not.
When it comes to administrating the COVID-19 vaccine, this is where some central Ohio counties stand as of Dec. 30.
“Our COVID-19 vaccination clinics the past two days have gone well. We have vaccinated approximately 300 individuals, mostly whom are frontline Fire/EMS as well as staff working the clinics. We are expanding into other Tier1A groups at our clinics today and tomorrow. We will be frequently updating our website in the coming weeks as we expand into other phases of the state vaccination strategy.”
“Since we received our first shipment of vaccine last week, we have administered around 150 doses. At this point in time, we have clinics scheduled for six days a week in an effort to vaccinate as many people within Phase 1A as we can with a limited supply of doses. As we receive more vaccine shipments, we will move on to Phase 1B then proceed to 1C.”
“As of this morning (before the day started) 72 COVID-19 vaccines have been reported administered in Madison County to those in Phase 1A - specifically to healthcare workers - in the last week. Please note that this does NOT include assisted living, nursing homes, and similar locations (also in Phase 1A) that are covered under the federal pharmacy vaccine program. Madison County Public Health does not receive updates on the number vaccinated in those settings. The Ohio Department of Health may have that information as they help coordinate that program.”
In Licking County, a spokesperson told 10TV they received 300 doses last week and 200 this week. So far, they have administered 206 vaccines and have additional clinics scheduled Thursday and all of next week.