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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

DeWine: Plans in the Works to Vaccinate Children As Soon As Possible

a photo of Gov. Mike DeWine
The Ohio Channel
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine talked about COVID-19 vaccines for kids and getting back to “normal” during a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Wednesday, part of his tour promoting Ohio Tourism Day.

Updated: 5:31 p.m., Wednesday, May 5, 2021

While promoting tourism at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Gov. Mike DeWine said the state is encouraging schools to come up with a plan to vaccinate Ohio students ages 12 and over.

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported children represented 22.4 percent of new U.S. COVID-19 cases reported in the past week, accounting for 71,649 out of 319,601 cases. But later in the day, it was announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old as soon as next week. The vaccine is currently authorized only for people age 16 and older.

“Work with your local health department,” DeWine said. “There is still time before summer starts and have the health department come in or another health partner and vaccinate any student whose parents want them to be vaccinated.”

DeWine said the state has already discussed plans for the summer as well.

“We're going to be in Boys Clubs, Girls Clubs,” DeWine said. “We're going to be where food is distributed. We're going to be anywhere where people are coming together.”

DeWine said Ohio’s goal is to come up with similar distribution programs for the new, younger age groups as those that were available for the older demographics.

”We continue to vaccinate people,” DeWine said. “Within the next few days, we hope to start vaccinating those who are 12 years of age and older and we hope by the fall to be able to vaccinate virtually everybody.”

DeWine tied vaccinations to what he predicts will be a great summer.

“This summer, I think, is going to be better than any summer that we've ever seen,” DeWine said. “I think there's just pent up desire to go and enjoy yourself. We now have over half of the adults in the state of Ohio who are vaccinated.”

Fresh off coordinating Cleveland’s role as host city for the 2021 NFL Draft, Destination Cleveland CEO David Gilbert agreed with the governor.

“We're starting to see a lot of ‘Coming Soon’ signs on restaurants that closed,” Gilbert said. “We are coming back. This industry is coming back and [we] believe that tourism can and will lead the way in the comeback of our economy post-COVID.”

Gilbert last week said the draft gave a lot of people a “first sense of normalcy” after a year of pandemic precautions and the event’s strong turnout showed many people are ready for the change.

“The statistics are showing it,” Gilbert said Wednesday, at the museum with DeWine and museum president Sonia Winner. “People want to travel, they have money to do it and they're going to do it and we are so confident in the future growth of the industry.”

DeWine added the state is looking at their options to help bars and restaurants with an employee shortage as workers continue to collect federal unemployment.

Glenn Forbes is supervising producer of newscasts at Ideastream Public Media.