COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state is expecting an allocation of 90,000 Johnson & Johnson doses next week if the company’s COVID-19 vaccine is authorized this weekend.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday that Ohio is expecting the doses to arrive in the “latter” part of next week if authorization goes as expected.
On Friday, an FDA committee unanimously voted to recommend Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine could be authorized as soon as Saturday, according to health officials.
The announcement comes after the governor announced the state would get a significant boost to its allocation of mRNA vaccines next week, with 310,000 first doses expected from Pfizer and Moderna. Two weeks ago, Ohio was receiving just 223,025 first doses that week.
Gov. Mike DeWine says 400,000 doses are expected next week, "a game changer."— Pete Grieve (@pete_grieve) February 26, 2021
He says 60 year-olds could soon become eligible: “We probably are going to move up the time that we thought maybe a week ago that we would make the change." @SpectrumNews1OH https://t.co/zehNlG1JXE pic.twitter.com/MQCdFIhW2F
DeWine said now that Ohio is expecting 400,000 first doses next week and similar numbers the following week, the state has to reassess its timeline for expanding vaccine eligibility to residents 60 and older.
"It's a discussion we were having last night and we continue to drill down on these numbers,” DeWine told Spectrum during a Zoom news conference Friday morning.
The governor said the state “seems to be kind of stuck at 60%” as far as uptake of the vaccine with seniors 80 and older, the first group that became eligible for vaccinations. He hopes that will go up more and that the younger age brackets of seniors will surpass 60% update as well.
But the governor acknowledged vaccine providers will soon have a hard time finding people to register if eligibility isn’t expanded.
“There's a lot of vaccine coming next week. This is a game changer next week,” he said. “We probably are going to move up the time that we thought maybe a week ago that we would make the change, so we're monitoring these numbers every day.”
The governor confirmed Friday the next expansion will add residents 60 and older. The state plans to then move to residents 55 and older and ultimately to residents 50 and older. Some "small groups" of younger residents may also be added.
State officials have been reluctant to put a date on the next eligibility expansion, but the governor estimated earlier in the week that the state would “hold” at 65 and up for 3 or 4 more weeks.
DeWine said many providers have vaccine appointments available right now if seniors are still looking. The governor said his wife, First Lady Fran DeWine, helped him check to see if appointments were currently available at Kroger. He said she was able to find multiple locations with appointments. The governor said he had his team assess the situation in Columbus and found 35 providers within 10 miles that have vaccine in stock.
“This is the opportunity — now, this weekend — because the different providers, many of them are open now and have opened for next week, and it's now the time to lock that slot in for yourself so that you know you have the opportunity next week,” the governor said.
State officials plan to assess the situation over the weekend and announce Ohio's plan to expand eligibility as soon as next week, DeWine said.