LIMA — The next phase of vaccinations in Ohio will prioritize the elderly, adults with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders and adults who work in schools that choose to remain open or resume in-person instruction, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday.
The plan breaks from recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to include more frontline essential workers who are routinely exposed to coronavirus in grocery stores, factories and prisons. It prioritizes vaccination of adults 65 years and older, who make up roughly 87% of all COVID-19 deaths recorded in Ohio, and those who have medical conditions that make them more susceptible to serious disease from the virus.
“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions,” DeWine said, “but we’ve been guided in this by a desire and moral imperative to save as many lives as we can and to do this as quickly as we can.”
The new plan outlined Wednesday also prioritizes school personnel in a move intended to help school districts resume in-person instruction without compromising the safety of teachers, bus drivers and other adults who are frequently exposed to children who may be carrying the virus.
Of Ohio public school children, 45% are enrolled in schools that are now fully remote, while another 26% of public-school students are partially remote as schools contend with their own staffing shortages driven by community outbreaks.
“Our goal is to get all these children back in school,” DeWine said, noting that many students are falling behind or struggling with remote learning. “The vaccine gives us a tool that schools did not have.”
While DeWine did not offer a timeline for the next phase of vaccinations, he set a goal to have children back in school by March 1.
Children will not have access to the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines initially, as neither vaccine has been tested in children younger than 16 years old.