COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans 16 and older are officially eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Starting Monday through Wednesday, the state is expecting more than 571,000 doses of all three approved vaccines — the largest shipment Ohio has received so far.
"We really are encouraging everyone now to get that shot, even people who might not think you're very vulnerable," Gov. Mike DeWine said Monday touring a vaccine clinic. "You know, those in their 20s sometimes don't think you're going to be very vulnerable (or) they're not going to get very sick. But we would encourage them to do that because many times they are the carriers. They are socially active. They're real spreaders."
Individuals 16- and 17-years-old will get Pfizer whereas anyone 18 and older can get any of the three.
Last week, Gov. Mike DeWine gave the state's 1,300 providers the green light to distribute doses to individuals 16 and older if a county's supply allowed it. DeWine said since providers reported many canceled appointments, he didn't want the doses to go to waste. The state is one of the first in the nation to widely expand vaccine eligibility.
Mississippi, Alaska and Tennessee are among the other states that have expanded eligibility to all residents 16 years old and over.
"Some counties opened it up Friday. We're starting to see some younger people starting to come in as well," DeWine said. "So I think we're doing we're doing pretty well, but we just have to keep pushing forward."
More than 64% of seniors in Ohio who are 65 and older have received a shot of the vaccine, according to the state’s dashboard, with the 80 and older age group with more than 70% uptake. For the 60 to 64 age group, 51% have received a vaccine shot.
The vaccination rate was lower for the 50 to 59 (37.9%) and 40 to 49 (27.6%) age groups. Ohio dropped eligibility to residents 40 and older on Friday, March 19. Residents 50 and older became eligible Thursday, March 11.
Ohio has vaccinated 1,857,700 people, 15.89% of the state's residents, according to a Sunday afternoon update from the Ohio Department of Health.
DeWine meets virtually with the state’s county commissioners early in the morning on Mondays. Each week, the commissioners provide updates to the governor on how quickly appointments are filling up, or not, which informs state decisions to expand eligibility.