Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on Tuesday that the next group of Ohioans to be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine will under the age of 65, although he did not say exactly who will be included in the next phase.
Although Phase 1C has not yet been announced, DeWine said in a press conference on Tuesday that the next phase of eligibility will “certainly include” a drop in age while still focusing on vulnerable populations.
“Again, the determination that we’re looking at is who are the most vulnerable people, who are the people that we need to cover as quickly as we can,” DeWine said. “…We will have that at some point in the future.”
DeWine said that eligibility would hold for those at age 65 and older for several weeks.
“We know it’s going to take a while for that group to get to the point where we no longer have situations where people can’t get the vaccine,” DeWine said. “Age is still by far the best predictor of vulnerability.”
Phase 1B of the vaccine has included those ages 65 years old and older, as well as those with severe congenital or developmental disorders and staff members of K-12 schools. Those who are ages 65 and older became eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine earlier this week.
The governor added that the state would be releasing information about an upcoming expansion in eligibility to those who have severe medical issues but are not over the age of 65. DeWine said this group could make the vaccine eligible to 200,000 Ohioans.
DeWine said that he believes the vaccine is having at least some impact on COVID-19’s loosening grip in Ohio, particularly among hospitalizations.
“When you vaccinate a million people…that is going to have an impact, but I think it is a combination of a number of things,” Dewine said. “I think if you look at the hospitals, I think that’s a direct cause and effect — fewer people in the hospitals because of COVID.”
Hospitalizations have continued to drop in the state, with a little more than 2,000 Ohio residents currently hospitalized, down from more than 4,000 at the beginning of January, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
A little more than 1 million Ohio residents currently have had at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.