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Columbus Prepares For Limited Supplies In Second Phase Of COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Columbus Public Health on Parsons Avenue.
file photo
Columbus Public Health on Parsons Avenue.

Columbus and Franklin County health officials are preparing for phase 1B of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, which the state says will begin next week.

Three groups will be able to get the vaccine in this phase: Ohioans over 65, teachers at K-12 schools with in-person classes, and those born with congenital or developmental conditions.

Columbus Public Health commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts says they'll start next week with those over 80.

“I urge everyone to really be patient,” Roberts said at a press conference Thursday. “We are receiving 600 doses of the vaccine. I know that is a small number and I am certain that we will run out of those doses very quickly.”

In the second week, Ohioans ages 75 and older will be able to get the vaccine, followed in subsequent weeks by those 70 and above, and then people 65 and above. Roberts says they’ll start to vaccinate teachers at the beginning of February.

Remaining members of phase 1A, such as frontline health workers, who want a vaccine but have yet to get one will still be allowed to do so. But officials note that demand still far outstrips supply.

In Franklin County, 72 sites will offer the vaccine, including the city and county health departments, many Kroger and Giant Eagle pharmacies and the area's major health systems. Vaccines through Columbus and Franklin County Public Health will be available by appointment only.

"The idea from the state is that these vaccines will be available in a variety of different locations and a variety of different neighborhoods for people to access the vaccine who are eligible," Roberts says.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Ohio will launch a tool Friday morning for Ohioans to search by county or zip code to find a location offering a vaccine.

Franklin County Public Health will receive 500 doses to begin with, and plans to administer them all next Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Ohio State University says it hopes to ultimately get up to 3,000 vaccinations a day, though there is not yet enough supply to do so. The school is following state guidelines of vaccinating seniors first.

Wexner Medical Center chief clinical officer Dr. Andy Thomas says they'll shift their operation from vaccinating their employees to vaccinating their patients.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.