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Officials Don't Know When Most Ohioans Will Get The COVID-19 Vaccine

A nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y.
A nurse prepares a shot as a study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y.

COVID-19 vaccines have started rolling out across the country for people on the front lines of combatting the virus, as well as those most at risk of getting it. That includes health care workers, nursing home residents and employees, and emergency first responders. But when can most Ohioans expect to be vaccinated? One local official says it's just not known yet.

"We are heavily reliant upon how much vaccine is available, both here, locally at the county level, at the state level, and at the federal level," Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman says.

Governor Mike DeWine said Wednesday the vaccination process is moving too slowly. He pointed to a variety of reasons for that, including vaccine availability and swamped health departments.

Locally, less than 1% of Hamilton County's population has received their first dose of the vaccine so far.

"It's a low number but it's based on how much vaccine has been made locally available," Kesterman said.

While the governor said people refusing to get the shot in nursing homes has delayed the rollout of the vaccination statewide, Kesterman says that's not an apparent problem locally.

"There are certainly individuals that are not accepting the vaccine, but at this point in our vaccination program, we have more than enough arms to vaccinate," he said. "More people want the vaccine than we have available. So, at this time we are not really too concerned. And I think as the vaccine campaign moves though the spring and into summer, I think people will realize that this is a safe vaccine."

Health care workers have had to fight skepticism about the vaccine, which stems from causes, including misinformation and fear about how fast the vaccine was developed. But testing lasted for months and the federal government is still monitoring side effects.

Kestermen says people who get the shot are given information about the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS (pronounced like "veers"). It's an optional system that enables people to report adverse reactions to the vaccine.

For most Ohioans, though, it'll likely be months before they're eligible for the vaccine. In the meantime, Kesterman says all people can really do is keep social distancing, wearing masks and practicing good hygiene.

"At this time it's still unknown," he said. "There have been some high-level estimates that late March, we might begin to see 1c and Phase 2 start to get the vaccine."

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