COVID-19 vaccine distribution underway across Portage County and Ohio

Ohio vaccine phases infographic

Ian Jameson Reporter

With vaccine distribution underway across the state, Portage County is starting to distribute the coronavirus vaccine to its population. 

Over 10,300 people, or 6.3 percent of the population, have started to take doses of the vaccine in Portage County, according to the Kent City Health Department.

“It’s about where we would expect it to be in the middle of January; we were looking at about 2.5 percent [of the county population],” Michael Anguilano III, a public information officer for the Kent City Health Department, said.

Anguilano also said those who aren’t a part of the current vaccine rollout in Portage County are still months away from being able to receive it.

In December, Gov. Mike DeWine approved a four-phase system to distribute the vaccine. Those who are close to or who care for COVID-19 patients, such as health care workers and nursing home staff, received the vaccine first. 

Throughout the month of February, 2.2 million Ohioans will be eligible to receive their first coronavirus vaccine. According to the Ohio Department of Health’s plan, vaccines will only be distributed to citizens above the age of 65, K-12 educators and those with severe congenital, developmental or early-onset and inherited conditions. 

A list of these conditions is still developing but there is no formal timeframe for vaccine distribution provided by the state. 

“Distribution timeframe is outside of the county control,” Anguilano said. “May is a pretty safe estimate, June is a really safe estimate.”

After these high-risk groups have been vaccinated, Phase 1 will move on to Phase 2. 

According to the state’s outline, Phase 2 allows for more vulnerable populations to be vaccinated, but supplies will not be available for the general population. Phases 3 and 4 will allow vaccines to be distributed to any Ohioan who wants one. 

To help with current vaccination efforts and to plan for future phases, Kent State has established a vaccine committee. 

Kent State plans to work with the Kent City Health Department and the Portage County Combined General Health District to develop a strategy for vaccine access in the community. 

“The Kent campus may become a COVID-19 vaccine distribution site in the future,” Manfred van Dulmen, interim associate provost for academic affairs, wrote in a letter to the community. “Many of our regional campuses already are serving as distribution sites in their respective counties.”

President Todd Diacon informed Kent State’s faculty senate on Feb. 8 that the M.A.C. Center would be available for vaccine distribution. 

“We are ready to open the M.A.C.C. should the county ask us to do so,” Diacon said.  

Van Dulmen also echoed the Kent City Health Department’s view on vaccine availability.

It is expected to be months before the vaccine is widely available and in large enough supply to offer open vaccination events for the entire university community,” van Dulman wrote. “If you are eligible to receive the vaccine through another COVID-19 vaccine provider in Ohio now or in the future, I strongly encourage you to get it.”

Vaccine provider locations are available on the Ohio Department of Health’s website

Ian Jameson covers the Statehouse. Contact him at [email protected]