Ohio on track for all adults to be vaccine-eligible by May 1, children will have to wait

Ohio is on track to offer the coronavirus vaccine to all adults by May 1, in accordance with President Joe Biden’s plan, state and local officials said Friday.

“We’re going to move forward, make it available as quickly as we can,” DeWine said Friday morning while visiting a vaccination clinic in Cincinnati.

Currently, Ohioans 50 and older and those with qualifying health conditions and occupations are eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. DeWine said Thursday afternoon that the state likely will continue expanding eligibility for the vaccine by age group or health condition before every adult becomes eligible. He did not specify a date when all residents would become eligible.

The U.S. is expecting delivery of enough doses for the country’s 255 million adults by the end of May. But administering those doses will take time.

“Just be patient and know we’re working as fast as we can to get the vaccine out,” said Vicky Knisley-Henry, a spokeswoman for Miami County Public Health.

Area health departments and hospital networks say they are ready to give doses on a large scale.

“Once we start getting larger allotments, we’ll have more clinics or larger clinics,” Knisley-Henry said.

Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County will increase its capacity to administer the vaccine “greatly” before May 1, spokesman Dan Suffoletto said. The Ohio Department of Health has designated Dayton a mass vaccination site and will send thousands of more doses in the coming weeks, he said.

“We’re anticipating a large number of doses well before that May 1 date, and then we will be looking at expanding the number of days that we’re doing the clinics, and potentially the number of hours. Even before the announcement, we were already planning for greatly expanding our capacity,” he said.

Kettering Health Network has seen demand increase for shots as more doses become available, it said in a statement.

“We have been able to meet that demand by filling all appointments across our network. This week, in order to expand access, we opened a fifth COVID-19 vaccine clinic, this time at a location on the Greene Memorial Hospital Campus in Xenia,” the statement says. “By continuing to use our supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, we believe we will help reach that goal of being able to vaccinate all Ohio adults that are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1.”

When can children get vaccinated?

Biden specifically said adults will be eligible for the vaccine by May; he did not include children in his announcement. That’s because no coronavirus vaccine is yet authorized for use in children; clinical trials have only been completed for adults. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for use in those 16 and up, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines are authorized for ages 18 and up.

One local expert predicts a coronavirus vaccine or multiple vaccines will be licensed for use in children 12 years and older by August, in time for next school year.

And it will likely be about a year until children younger than 12 can get the vaccine, said Dr. Robert W. Frenck Jr., director of the Gamble Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s and the immunization program medical director of the Ohio American Academy of Pediatrics.

“And that’s based on Pfizer already having done a study from 12- to 17-year-olds, and Moderna is just about done with their adolescent trial, too,” he said. “So, I think, at least those two companies will have data for adolescents that will allow them to put in as part of their biological licensing application, so basically asking the FDA for approval.”

Coronavirus vaccine trials on children younger than 12 have not started yet.

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