COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio is contributing 120,000 Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses to a federal vaccine pool for states that may have greater demand for vaccines than the Buckeye State, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) officials said Monday.
With authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds possible this week, the state is requesting 139,230 doses of that vaccine be added to the state’s stockpile stored at the federal level, ODH spokesperson Alicia Shoults said.
“Ohio has ordered 65,370 new first doses to arrive in the state this week, in addition to doses allocated to federal partners in Ohio,” Shoults said. “Vaccine is precious. Many providers in Ohio have adequate vaccine supply on-hand, and requested that additional doses not be shipped to them the week of May 10.”
Monday’s announcement was the first time Ohio said it was deferring additional doses. Officials said the state’s approach will help ensure that COVID-19 vaccine doses are available to everyone in the U.S.
“Ordering only what can be used in the state week-by-week ensures that this vaccine is preserved for who and when it is needed,” Shoults said.
ODH clarified in its statement that reports the federal program was mandatory are incorrect.
“We have since learned contributing doses to the federal pool is optional,” Shoults said. “We feel it is important to contribute to this federal pool to ensure other states have adequate vaccine (supply) and because there may be a time when Ohio also needs to use this shared vaccine pool.”
The Biden administration informed governors last week it was planning to shift its strategy for distributing vaccine supply, making more inoculations available to states that can utilize the doses.
During a visit in Columbus Thursday, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said the Biden administration will not cut off vaccine supply for any states due to lacking demand, but it will take advantage of opportunities to distribute more doses to states that have greater demand for vaccines.
Ohio is not alone in making the move this week to request a partial supply of the available allocation.
Connecticut, South Carolina, North Carolina, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Carolina and Washington have made similar announcements.
Gov. Mike DeWine told News-Talk 1480 WHBC that earlier Monday he met with about 30 people discussing strategies to improve Ohio’s vaccination rate. On Monday, 41.5% of the state’s population had been vaccinated, the governor said.
“What we have to do as a state is just continue to get those numbers higher. The more people that we can take out of the equation — that they can't pass it. They can't get it. They can't get sick. They can't go to hospital (or) they can't die — the better off we are going to be as a state,” he said.
The governor said there are residents of Ohio who will never get vaccinated, but he was confident the state can reach many more residents who may be on the fence.
“We also have people who might get vaccinated and have just been putting it off, and what we're trying to do is make this available in as convenient a way as we can to those people who are still thinking about it, those who have put it off, those who don't see a great sense of urgency, but those are very persuadable people,” he said.
Last week, Ohio asked for 480,180 first-dose shots to be stored due to slowing demand for vaccines.
Shoults said officials will continue to monitor Ohio’s need for additional vaccine supply.
“Every week, we will make a decision based on what is in the best interest of Ohioans,” she said. “We will make this decision every week based on the facts on the ground and will pivot quickly to ensure that we have the most appropriate supply available to meet demand in the state.”