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Ohio Is Expanding Vaccine Eligibility, But Cancer Patients Still Aren't On The List

A nurse prepares a Moderna vaccination at a Columbus vaccine clinic.
Dan Konik
Ohio Public Radio
A nurse prepares a Moderna vaccination at a Columbus vaccine clinic.

The list of Ohioans who will be eligible for COVID vaccines come Thursday will include all residents 50 and over, patients with Type 2 diabetes and end-stage renal disease. But the priority list still doesn’t include cancer patients.

When Gov. Mike DeWine announced the next phases of the vaccine rollout last week, Bryan Hannon, director of government relations for the American Cancer Society, says he was a little confounded.

“Certainly, going by an age-based approach has made sense for Ohio, but once you start adding in other chronic diseases and conditions but not adding in cancer, as the CDC recommends, it certainly leaves us with a lot of questions," Hannon says.

Among the other conditions that qualify people for the vaccine in Ohio are: Sickle cell anemia, Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, severe heart defects, epilepsy and severe neurological disorders, severe asthma, solid organ transplant candidates and recipients, ALS, and bone marrow transplant recipients.

David Dillahunt, executive director of the Ohio Hematology Oncology Society, is also wondering why cancer patients have been left out.

“I just don’t know why they just haven’t taken that step to include those who are fighting cancer and those who tend to end up in the hospital if things go wrong," Dillahunt says. "They are much more likely, if they get COVID, than those who are not currently going through cancer treatment."

There are at least 17 states that have put patients with cancer on the priority list for COVID vaccines.

What questions do you still have about the COVID-19 vaccine and Ohio's rollout? Ask below, and WOSU may answer as part of our series A Year Of COVID.


Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.