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Vaccine effort picks up, but remains slow

With the state vaccinating those at least 80 years old this week for COVID-19, the number of doses given is picking up. But the total COVID-19 vaccines still lags well behind the number of people eligible to receive them.

The Ohio Department of Health reported that as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, the state had administered 482,039 vaccines. That is 4.12 percent of the state’s population. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, Ohio had 1,119,175 doses of the vaccine, so the state used 43.1 percent of what it had. Of the amount given, 25,979 vaccinations occurred in the 24 hours ending at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The Ohio Department of Health had “technical difficulties” Wednesday providing vaccination data on its COVID-19 website for almost four hours. While the data states it is as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, the website had a note indicating it was probably for a later time, likely resulting in a higher number for Wednesday and an expected lower number for the next 24 hours when the information is reported today.

The state started giving first-dose vaccinations to those at least 80 years old Tuesday. In Ohio, 420,000 people are in that age category, with about 100,000 doses available this week.

The state as of Wednesday hadn’t announced how many doses it was getting next week.

Two doses, given three to four weeks apart, are needed.

Ohio began its COVID-19 vaccinations Dec. 14, but has experienced numerous issues with its vaccination program.

The state is delaying vaccinations for those who have severe congenital or early-onset medical disorders who don’t also have a developmental or intellectual disability. They were initially eligible for the vaccine next Monday. Now, they will have to wait until Feb. 15 to start.

Also, while those at least 75 years old will be eligible to get vaccinated starting Monday, the plan for other seniors could be delayed. Those at least 70 were supposed to start being vaccinated Feb. 1 and those at least 65 were scheduled to start Feb. 8. But Gov. Mike DeWine said Ohio may postpone those start dates.

The state also got shipments for 155 of the 722 vaccine providers a day later than planned this week causing providers to delay appointments for some.

And the ODH announced last week that SpecialtyRX, a Columbus provider that was giving vaccines to eight long-term care facilities, was suspended after it failed to monitor the temperature of 890 unused doses. The doses were wasted and the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy opened an investigation.

Residents who are at least 65, those with qualifying medical disorders and adults at K-12 schools that have in-person or partial in-person instruction or plan to have it comprise the second group of people eligible for the vaccination. That is about 2.2 million people.

The first group, that started getting inoculated Dec. 14, includes health care workers and personnel routinely involved with the treatment of COVID-19 patients, emergency medical responders and those living and / or working in congregate setttings, such as nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. That group includes about 1 million people.

The two groups combined make up about 25 percent of the state’s population.

Currently, there is no plan announced to vaccinate anyone else though DeWine said everyone who wants it will be eventually eligible to get it.

The Mahoning County Public Health District received 975 more COVID-19 vaccines this week than it was initially allocated, Commissioner Ryan Tekac said. It was supposed to receive 400 doses.

The county will use the 975 doses for those at least 80 years of age at clinics today and Friday at the Austintown Senior Center, 112 Westchester Drive, and the other 400 doses will go to those with developmental or intellectual disabilities at a clinic next week, Tekac said.

While the county district is providing 975 doses to those at least 80 years old today and Friday, it had 3,816 people in that age group pre-register, Tekac said.

All of today’s slots are filled and the district was scheduling people for Friday as of late Wednesday.

The county district is scheduled to receive an additional 400 doses next week for those at least 75 years old, he said.

“That could change,” Tekac said. “We hope to get more. We requested 1,500 doses. We wanted to do 500 next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”

COVID-19 DATA

The ODH reported Wednesday an increase of 6,378 new COVID-19 cases in the state.

While that is the most in the past four days — 5,247 Sunday, 4,312 Monday and 4,989 Tuesday — it is still below the daily average of 7,223 for the past 21 days.

There were 842,433 total COVID-19 cases in Ohio as of Wednesday with 704,045 presumed recovered and 10,409 deaths.

There were 73 COVID-19 deaths reported Wednesday, one below the daily average for the past 21 days. Of those 73 newly-reported deaths, four were in Trumbull County. There are now 311 COVID-19 deaths in Trumbull with 161 — about 52 percent — reported since Dec. 1.

The ODH reported 12,604 COVID-19 cases in Trumbull as of Wednesday, with 10,858 presumed recovered.

In Mahoning County, the ODH listed 17,035 total COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday with 14,636 presumed recovered and 337 fatalities.

Columbiana County had 7,202 cases as of Wednesday with 6,071 presumed recovered and 124 deaths.

Also effective immediately, Mercy Health-Youngstown resumed some of its visitations for patients admitted at its three area hospitals, St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital and St. Joseph Warren Hospital.

Inpatient units with the exception of the behavioral health unit will permit one visitor per patient per day between 9 a.m. and noon or 4 to 7 p.m.

Also, paternity patients can have one visitor per day, patients younger than 18 can have two parent and / or guardian visits per day, and those in the emergency department can have one visitor a day.

However, those with flu-like symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 are not allowed to visit.

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