LIMA — Ohioans who are at least 75 years old will be eligible for COVID-19 immunizations starting next week. But Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday said he expects Ohio will receive a similar allotment of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as it did this week, foreshadowing another week of wait lists and call-back-later messages as an increasing number of Ohioans try to reserve their shots.
The process has been complicated by a scarcity of vaccines and last-minute notices from the federal government notifying states how many doses will be allotted from week to week.
And the increasing number of vaccine administration sites, intended to make it easier for Ohioans to find a nearby clinic, has added to the confusion among those searching for a location that still has appointments available.
“Our biggest problem is really simple: It’s lack of vaccine,” DeWine said on Thursday, referencing a letter he sent to the incoming Biden administration outlining the challenges the state has encountered while administering the vaccine.
Still, Ohio will move forward with its plan to expand eligibility by five years each week until anyone 65 years or older is able to get a vaccine if they choose.
Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental and early-onset medical disorders and a developmental or intellectual disability will also have access next week, while those with qualifying medical disorders but no disability will have to wait until the week of Feb. 15.
Rapid antigen tests
DeWine on Thursday announced Ohio will purchase 2 million at-home BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests to help local health departments quickly identify outbreaks in workplaces, schools and communities.
The $50 million investment will rely on CARES Act dollars to make the rapid-antigen tests more widely available, a request DeWine said he has heard from health departments for months.
The tests can be performed at home, with results ready within 15 minutes.
A telehealth system will also be available to demonstrate how to administer the tests and read the results.
Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health, said false negatives are more common than false positives with the rapid antigen tests, meaning a person who tests negative should not interpret their result to mean they are COVID-free.
But a person who tests positive can be fairly certain they have COVID-19, Vanderhoff said, and should isolate themselves immediately to avoid spreading the disease.
The tests will be provided to local health departments to use at their discretion.