DeWine Urges Eligible Youth Get Vaccinated As Ohio 'Seems To' Be Headed For A Plateau

[Ohio Department of Health / YouTube]

Updated: 4:01 p.m., Wednesday, April 21, 2021

With the number of vaccinated older Ohioans consistently going up, Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday used his coronavirus briefing to speak to younger residents and urge them to get the shot.

Currently, those age 16 and older are eligible for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, while Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine remains on pause. DeWine said almost one-fifth – or 18.6 percent – of 16- and 17-year-olds in the state have received their first dose. It’s “not bad,” he said, but he’d like to see more.

Wolstein Center Clinic Extension In The Works

Plans are not yet finalized for the continuation of the mass vaccination clinic at the Wolstein Center, but DeWine said Wednesday that Pfizer shots will replace the Johnson and Johnson dose for now and appointments are open for next week.

“Those (appointments) should be open right now and you can start reserving your space for next week. Pfizer will be the vaccine,” DeWine said. “They continue to average about 6,000 doses a day [there], putting in arms. It’s open today. We are in week six of the clinic. So, week six is the last week of the second doses.”

Ohio’s first mass vaccination site officially opened to the public March 17, with a plan to offer Pfizer first doses for three weeks followed by three weeks of second doses and then a switch to the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine for weeks seven and eight before closing the site. But the April 13 U.S. pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution put a crimp in that plan.

While final plans are still in the works to extend the clinic – which is a partnership with multiple state and federal agencies, including the Ohio National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as CSU volunteers and staff – out to 12 weeks, more than an month longer than originally planned.

“The goal will be to extend that, extend that a number of weeks,” DeWine said. “You could see seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 ,12 [weeks]. It's possible. That's what we hope to be able to do. We're still lining people up, we're still lining volunteers up.”

Focus Shifts To Younger Ohioans

“What happens with our younger people is going to determine how fast we can reach herd immunity,” DeWine said.

Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said what might not have been a concern for younger Ohioans early in the pandemic should be a concern now.

“Until we get a lot more vaccines in people's arms, the unvaccinated are playing the COVID lottery, and it’s a lottery where the consequences are pretty stark,” he said.

Over the winter months, people in their 20s accounted for 3 to 4 percent of hospital admissions, but now that number has doubled to 6 percent, Vanderhoff said.

“If you’re counting on herd immunity to cover you, you really can’t count on it yet,” he said.

The state is releasing a series of PSAs featuring young Ohioans who have gotten vaccinated.

Meanwhile, 38 percent of the state’s total population has received their first dose and 27.5 percent are now fully vaccinated, DeWine reported.

The governor said cases are still at a high rate, but not going up, which indicates the state may be headed to a plateau. Still, he cautioned the virus is “more contagious than it’s ever been.”

“We’ll feel better when we see a really defined, downward direction,” he said. “I don’t think we can say we’re there yet.”

On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported 1,789 new COVID-19 cases in previous 24 hours, which is below the 21-day rolling average, along with 138 new hospitalizations and 12 ICU admissions.

ideastream's Gayle S. Putrich and Glenn Forbes contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

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