Ohio is working to vaccinate at-risk communities as part of efforts to battle health care inequities in the state, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday.
The state is working with faith-based groups, Federally Qualified Health Centers and local health departments to create pop-up vaccine clinics in those communities.
Multiple local health departments, including in Montgomery County, are prioritizing minority communities and other underserved populations to educate residents and give them the chance to be vaccinated, the governor said.
The state health department is working with Ohio Medicaid to provide transportation to vaccine clinics as well.
Ohio’s Minority Health Vaccine Advisory Group is advising the state and giving feedback about the different barriers that people face in getting access to the vaccine. Starting on Feb. 22, the state will livestream virtual town halls aimed at finding answers to those solutions. The town halls will be available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
“The pandemic has highlighted inequities in our healthcare system,” DeWine said. “There are Ohioans who simply do not have equal access to healthcare. We’ve worked to address these gaps, especially in our efforts to roll out the vaccine, but it’s a work in progress. There is more to do.”
Starting Feb. 8, Ohio will also have six vaccine clinics in senior affordable housing.
Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy said bringing the vaccines directly to those residents’ homes eliminates barriers such as location, mobility and access to care.
“This will service tens of thousands older Ohioans,” she said. “We know these clinics will be convenient, accessible and equitable.”
DeWine also asked people getting the vaccine to fill out the form as much as possible, including sections about race and ethnicity. He noted that many people are not designating their race or ethnicity, which makes it harder for the state to address gaps in vaccine clinics and health care.
The Department of Aging is working Area Agencies on Aging and other providers to help connect with older Ohioans who may be isolated due to the pandemic. During the 15-minute observation after a patient is vaccinated they’ll receive information about avoiding tax fraud, recipes and information about area food pantries.
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Vaccinations are continuing at Ohio long-term care facilities, with 89% of the state’s 920 skilled nursing facilities receiving the vaccine, DeWine said.
Of the state’s 645 assisted living centers, 86% have received the first dose and 48% the second.
The governor and his wife Fran DeWine both received their first dose of the vaccine this morning in Jamestown. The governor is 74 and Fran is 73.
This week, Ohioans 70 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, as well as K-12 school staff.
Vaccine clinics for older Ohioans and school staff will be held separately so the two groups are not competing for spots.
Vaccinations for school staff will continue throughout February, with Ohio aiming to have the first dose administered to all personnel who want the vaccine by the end of the month.
DeWine said the state hopes to have about 100,000 vaccines for older Ohioans and approximately 55,000 vaccines for school staff each week.
Starting next week, the vaccine will be available to the final group in Phase 1B: people ages 65 and older. DeWine said that more information on when Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset medical disorders who do not have an intellectual or developmental disabilities will be available in the next week.
The governor has not discussed Phase 1C or indicated who will make up the next group of Ohioans to receive the vaccine or when they will be able to get it.
Ohio has reported more than 900,000 total cases of coronavirus, with 3,657 reported on Tuesday, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
It’s the third day in a row that daily cases have remained under 4,000 in the state. Over the last 21 days, Ohio is reporting an average or 5,228 cases a day.
Deaths exceeded 100 for the first time in the state in nearly two weeks. Ohio recorded 109 deaths on Jan. 21 and has reported 11,336 total deaths since the pandemic began.
The state added 221 hospitalizations Tuesday for a total of 46,659. There were 2,488 COVID-19 patients in Ohio hospitals as of Tuesday.
“By and large these numbers continue to drop, so we’re happy to see that,” DeWine said.
Throughout the pandemic, Ohio has recorded 6,730 ICU admissions, with 21 reported in the last 24 hours.