Ohio governor: State’s first vaccine batch coming by Dec. 15

Andrew Welsh-Huggins, AP

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio could see its first batch of up to 30,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine by Dec. 15, with fresh supplies arriving every few days, Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday, citing calls his office had with the White House.

The first batch would come from a Pfizer-produced vaccine, followed by one developed by drug maker Moderna, the governor said.

“We’re told once it starts coming, they hope it to be a continuous flow,” DeWine said.

The Republican governor called the announcement good news even as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Ohio along with a record number of hospitalizations.

The state’s distribution plan is expected to put a high priority on first responders such as health care workers, nursing home residents, people considered at high-risk for the coronavirus because of medical problems, teachers and school staff members, and others.

The state will follow distribution guidelines set forth by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the Ohio Department of Health’s chief medical officer.

“We are looking at getting vaccine first to those who are at the greatest risk, and the health care providers who work with them, and then it will cascade from there,” Vanderhoff said.

The state’s preference is to provide the first vaccine batches to local health departments for initial distribution, according to a draft plan of Ohio’s vaccination plan released last month.

DeWine and health experts continued to urge Ohioans to limit Thanksgiving gatherings. The governor also asked schools moving forward with winter sports to do so without fans.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association tweeted Tuesday it was alerting schools to DeWine’s request while noting parents would still be allowed to attend contests.

Nearly 4,500 people are currently in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms, including more than 1,000 in intensive care units and more than 570 on ventilators, according to state Health Department data.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio has risen over the past two weeks from 4,724 on Nov. 9 to 8,277 on Nov. 23, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.