Ohio to give nursing home workers 2nd chance at vaccine


By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press



COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nursing home workers who declined the coronavirus vaccine during the first round of shots will be given another opportunity to take it, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday as he outlined plans for providing ongoing access to the vaccine in the state’s long-term care facilities.

Only about four of every 10 employees nursing home and assisted-living facility employees have received it, the governor has said. Workers have cited distrust of the vaccine and concern about side effects.

Providing that second opportunity is part of the state’s plan to make vaccines available for new residents and employees of nursing homes and assisted living facilities now that the initial round of shots is over. Details are coming next week.

The goal is “continuing access to this life-saving vaccine,” DeWine said.

More than 1 million Ohioans received at least the first vaccine shot as of Tuesday, or about 9% of the population, according to the state Department of Health.

Also Tuesday, the governor said he wants Ohio schools to develop plans by April 1 for addressing educational setbacks experienced by children during the pandemic, and he’s making $2 billion in federal aid available to help.

Steps to close the pandemic schooling gap could including tutoring, summer programs, extended school years or school days, DeWine said. Schools have two years to use the money.

Ohio has paused its age-group delivery of vaccines to focus on people 65 and older, a large group of about 2 million Ohioans. The governor said Tuesday that once a third phase of vaccinations begins for people younger than 65, other needy groups could be considered. Funeral home workers, day care employees and police officers are among those who have lobbied for vaccines.

Last week, the chief judges of Ohio’s two federal court districts asked the Health Department director to include judicial workers on the list of essential employees eligible for a vaccine.

Those workers would include not just judges but employees with direct access to the public, including probation officers, deputy U.S. marshals and pretrial services officers.

“They are on the front lines and they have to be out in the community visiting with defendants and discharging their responsibilities,” said federal Judge Algenon Marbley, chief judge of the Southern District of Ohio.

The federal court for the Southern District of Ohio has recorded 47 positive coronavirus cases at its courthouses in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton. Federal courts also have a backlog of both criminal and civil cases and can’t begin to reopen until frontline judicial workers are vaccinated, Marbley said.

The state’s current vaccination plan doesn’t include judicial workers, but they could be included in other priority groups, said Ohio Health Department spokesperson Melanie Amato. Those currently eligible in Ohio include front line medical workers, people over 65, people with severe congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy, and school employees.

The Health Department said 1,974 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, the eighth day with hospitalizations falling below 2,500. That should signal the elimination of the state’s 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew starting Thursday, though DeWine said it could be reimplemented if case numbers rise again.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 5,370 on Jan. 25 to 3,295 on Feb. 8.

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By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press

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