CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Mayor John Cranley called on Gov. Mike DeWine Thursday to remove any age restrictions when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ohio, like its neighbors in the south and west, has made the vaccine available by age groups. Currently, Ohio is in phase 1C which allows those 60 and older, law enforcement officials, and other groups.
Mayor Cranley, citing the CDC, said going by age groups hurts minorities due to the shorter life expectancy they have. Minorities also have an increased risk of dying at a younger age from COVID-19, according to the CDC.
It’s those reasons why Mayor Cranley asked the governor to remove the age requirements in determining who is eligible for the vaccine.
The mayor also called for 911 operators, grocery store employees, and restaurant workers to become eligible for the vaccine under phase 1C.
“These employees have been on the front lines of the pandemic, providing a vital service to our community at a time when many had the ability to work from the safety of their homes,” the mayor said in a message to Gov. DeWine.
If one 911 operator were to get the virus, Mayor Cranley said it would cause a problem in the city’s efforts to help the more than 300,000 people.
Grocery store and restaurant workers can encounter hundreds of people a day.
For people in these groups, the mayor is asking for them to be vaccine eligible in phase 1C.
DeWine issued a statement on the issue Thursday evening following his press conference on when health orders will be lifted in Ohio.
The statement does not specifically mention Cranley or his letter. But the implicit contrast between Cranley’s request and DeWine’s explanation points to a substantive ideological dispute as to whether a policy should be evaluated for discriminatory effects even if no discrimination is intended.
The governor said he refuses to “single out” an entire racial or ethnic group for prioritization, adding Ohioans ages 60 and older make up 93 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the state and two-thirds of the hospitalizations.
“(...)The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is reducing barriers to expand access to vaccines, starting by issuing equity guidance to all vaccine providers encouraging them to adjust operations to account for potential barriers to accessing vaccine, such as offering vaccination opportunities on weekends and during evening hours, and being flexible with documentation accepted to verify identify and age,” DeWine said.
“In addition, the state is offering on-site vaccination clinics at affordable senior housing communities in partnership with the Ohio Department of Aging as a part of their Regional Rapid Response Program, and is hosting pop-up vaccination clinics in minority communities in partnership with federally qualified health centers and local organizations. We have also partnered with the Ohio Department of Medicaid to provide transportation options for those who want to receive the vaccine but face transportation barriers.”
The governor also touted OGH’s town hall events for African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and rural Ohioans.
“These virtual events were publicly broadcast starting Feb. 22, after the fact on the Ohio Channel, and are available on-demand online. The events are being coordinated in partnership with Ohio’s Minority Health Vaccine Advisory Group, whose mission is to help advise the Ohio Department of Health on how to best deliver the vaccine to underserved populations and better ensure equity.”
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