COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio reported this week that providers have administered more than 1 million COVID-19 booster vaccine doses, reaching the milestone less than three weeks after the federal government expanded booster eligibility.

What You Need To Know

  • Tens of thousands of residents are getting boosters each day in Ohio

  • Pfizer asked regulators Tuesday to approve boosters for everyone 18 and up

  • Moderna and Pfizer boosters are approved for seniors and some high-risk groups

The pace of vaccination has picked up nationwide and in Ohio since the approval of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters last month. 

According to state data, 9% of Ohio residents have received an additional vaccine dose. 

Franklin County resident Velma Wise, 82, who received a booster shot of the Moderna vaccine at the Columbus Public Health building Wednesday, said she still fears COVID-19 being elderly. She didn’t hesitate to get the booster shot. 

“I feel confident that it’s a safe vaccine, and I’m trying to live to my next birthday,” she said. 

Wise said she is grateful for the opportunity to get the added protection of another dose, allowing her to spend the upcoming holidays with close family members, some of whom she couldn’t see last year because the vaccines weren’t widely available. 

Michael Rush, director of HealthWise pharmacy at Ohio Northern University, said many of the patients coming in for boosters are seniors, but the group also includes lots of teachers, who were offered vaccines early on in Ohio last winter.

“It’s encouraging to see the initial demand and interest from patients to get the booster,” he said. “We’re hopeful that these measures will bring us one step closer to the end of the pandemic.”

The administration of third doses began in August, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved additional mRNA vaccine doses for immunocompromised people. 

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine boosters were approved in September for seniors and certain people 18 and up in high risk groups. The same recommendation came for Moderna recipients on Oct. 21. With both vaccines, boosters can be given six months after the second dose. 

For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC approved boosters for all recipients, at least two months out from the first dose. 

Wise said they are offering J&J boosters, but encourage those patients to instead receive an mRNA vaccine as a booster for stronger protection. 

“The early data is showing that a booster with an mRNA vaccine seems to do a little bit better job than a second Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” he said. “But if the preference is for the Johnson & Johnson product, we’ll certainly grant that preference to the patient. They’re all good products.”

In Ohio, Cuyahoga County has administered the most booster doses (132,794), followed by Franklin County (124,508) and Hamilton County (77,525), according to state data. 

Ohio ranks 40th among U.S. states for its share of residents who have received at least one dose with a 56% vaccination rate. The state ranks higher at 23rd for its rate of booster shots given. 

In the U.S., more than 25 million people have received a booster shot and about 800,000 boosters are now being given daily, White House officials said Wednesday. Close to half of U.S. seniors 65 and older who received the Pfizer vaccine have taken a booster shot, officials said.