Ohio to roll out COVID-19 vaccine in phases, starting with health care workers

Ohio unveils vaccine distribution plan

COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out in phases starting with health care workers.

He said the state is expected to get its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine around Dec. 15, which is subject to change.

DeWine says the first doses of the vaccine will be from Pfizer, the second a week later from Moderna, assuming everything is approved.

From Pfizer:

  • 9,750 vaccines will go to hospitals (prepositioned sites)
  • 88,725 vaccines will go to Walgreens/CVS for congregate care settings

On Dec. 22, the state anticipates a shipment of 201,000 vaccines from Moderna. These will go to 98 hospitals and 108 health departments, the governor said.

“Hospitals will vaccinate those dealing with COVID patients. Health departments will vaccinate people like EMS. There are other examples also,” DeWine said.

According to DeWine, on Dec. 22 Ohio also expects another shipment from Pfizer. The tentative number of vaccines in this shipment is 123,000. These will go to Walgreen and CVS for vaccination of those in congregate care settings.

“A few days later, we expect to get another 148,000 vaccines from Pfizer and 89,000 vaccines from Moderna,” he said.

During Phase 1 of the rollout, vaccine supply will be limited.

The administration of the vaccine will be focused on reaching critical groups:

  • Health care providers and personnel routinely involved with the care of COVID-19 patients.
  • Residents and staff at nursing facilities.
  • Residents and staff at assisted living facilities.
  • Residents and staff of Ohio’s veterans homes.
  • Patients and staff at psychiatric hospitals.
  • People with intellectual disabilities and those who live with mental illness who live in group homes and their staff.
  • EMS responders.

“The federal government has made clear that we will not know for sure how many vaccines are coming until closer to the time the shipments are coming,” the governor said.

The vaccine will only be given to those who choose to receive it.

It has not been determined when members of the general public will have the option to receive vaccines.

DeWine toured a facility in Central Ohio Tuesday that will be a key cog in the state’s rollout of the vaccine.

The Ohio Department of Health’s Receipt, Store and Stage warehouse facility will receive many of Pfizer’s vaccine doses when they are available.

The warehouse is equipped with ultracold freezers that can store up to 720,000 doses at once, according to a release from the governor’s office.

Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. The CDC meets to consider an emergency use authorization for that vaccine Dec. 10. It will meet again on Dec. 17 to consider an Emergency Use Authorization for Moderna’s vaccine, which can be stored at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

DeWine says initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be shipped directly to Ohio’s 10 prepositioned hospital sites. As supply increases, more providers will receive direct shipments if ordering 975 doses or more.

Rollout of the vaccine to those smaller localities is pivotal as COVID-19 cases increase in Ohio’s rural counties, meeting or exceeding the incident rates of Ohio’s urban areas.

When the vaccines are ready to be shipped from the warehouse, they will be removed from ultracold storage, repackaged with dry ice in two minutes and delivered within six hours, according to DeWine. The vaccine will remain stable if sealed in the original shipping container from the RSS warehouse with dry ice for up to 5 days.

Ohio Department of Health staff and Ohio National Guard members are practicing the repackaging step daily, DeWine says.

In addition to announcing the COVID-19 vaccine roll out plan, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff also discussed the importance of quarantine.

“Knowing this and knowing how hard it is to quarantine for 14 days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been carefully evaluating emerging data,” he said.

The CDC has offered two new options for quarantining:

  • A 10-day option that does not require testing, provided there are no symptoms.
  • A 7-day option with a negative test with no symptoms.

The Ohio Department of Health, however, continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine for many in Ohio.

“We ask people to quarantine - to stay in their homes for several days - after they have had close contact w/ someone w/ COVID. This helps prevent spread of the disease, because it can be carried and transmitted by people even if they never show symptoms,” Vanderhoff said.

If someone has no symptoms, a 10-day quarantine may be sufficient, however, Dr. Vanderhoff recommends getting tested on day eight or later. Quarantine can then end after the 10-day period.

Quarantine can be reduced further to seven days, Dr. Vanderhoff said, if an individual has no symptoms and receives a negative test on day five or later.

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