COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine is urging Ohio hospitals to administer COVID-19 vaccines within 24 hours of arrival and asks those eligible to receive the vaccine to do so as soon as possible.
DeWine called it a “moral imperative” and said Ohio needs to speed up the pace of vaccinations. Ohio is set to receive another 238,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines next week.
“Although we’ll never know whose lives have been saved, we do know that these vaccines are saving lives,” DeWine said on Wednesday. “We all have a moral responsibility to get the vaccine out to those who choose to receive it as quickly as we possibly can.”
The state’s vaccine rollout has been slow thus far, with only 17% of the 529,000 vaccine doses Ohio expected by the end of 2020 administered as of Wednesday, Ohio Department of Health data show.
DeWine pointed to several problems unfolding simultaneously:
• Overworked local health departments now tasked with vaccinating emergency responders and congregate care homes;
• Large numbers of nursing home workers reportedly declining to take the vaccine;
• Reporting lags between hospitals and the Ohio Department of Health, which may be undercounting the true number of vaccines already administered;
• And the complicated rollout of a massive vaccine program not seen in Ohio for nearly a century.
DeWine said roughly 80% of nursing home residents who have been offered the vaccine thus far have taken it, while an estimated 60% of nursing home workers offered the vaccine have declined it.
Most nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Ohio are working with CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies to administer vaccines to residents and staff, while local health departments are working with EMS teams and congregate care homes left out of the pharmacy program and hospitals are responsible for vaccinating their workers.
But because Ohio’s vaccination program is voluntary, health-care workers who reject the vaccine initially may be waiting weeks or even months before another chance arrives, as the next phase of vaccinations in Ohio will focus on the elderly, those with congestive medical conditions and adults who work in schools to help K-12 classrooms reopen.
“This is your choice,” DeWine said. “We believe the medical science clearly shows that it’s the right thing to do. … If you pass that up, there’s no guarantee when you’re going to have that opportunity to do that again.”
Ohio is anticipating another 69,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week, as well as 70,200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 98,475 booster shots from Pfizer.