COLUMBUS -- Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday morning that the first COVID-19 vaccines have arrived and are being distributed to 10 hospitals around the state.
“This really is the day we’ve been waiting for,” DeWine said. “It starts the process of the end.
"We know the end is a long way off. But the end now is in sight. There is a great deal of excitement here. Every day as go forward from here, we will see more and more people vaccinated."
He said health-care workers at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who work directly with COVID-19 patients will be vaccinated Monday morning.
"These vaccines will allow our healthcare workers to continue to fight COVID-19 on the front lines to get us through the pandemic," the governor said.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, as of Sunday afternoon, 562,727 residents have gotten the coronavirus with 31,393 hospitalizations and 7,492 deaths since the pandemic reached the state in March.
The state expects to receive 660,000 doses from Pfizer by the end of December in the first wave of the recently-approved vaccine. The vaccine requires two doses and has been shown to be 95 percent effective.
The 10 hospitals, none in north central Ohio, have the ability to store the 975 doses in freezers capable of keeping them at 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Each of the 10 will receive the vaccines today.
The vaccine will also be taken to an undisclosed storage area in central Ohio. Distribution to other facilities, including other hospitals and nursing homes, will come from that storage site.
During a media briefing on Friday, DeWine announced a priority list for vaccine recipients:
-- Health care workers involved in direct care of COVID-19 patients.
-- EMS responders.
-- Vulnerable individuals and those who care for them, such as residents and staff of nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
-- Patients and staff members at the state’s psychiatric facilities.
-- Individuals with intellectual disabilities in group homes.
-- Residents and staff members of Ohio’s two veterans homes.
Asked Friday if he will be vaccinated, DeWine said, "I will take it absolutely as soon as I can take it."
Several healthcare workers and personnel who are routinely involved with the care of COVID-19 patients immediately received vaccinations.
"It was such a moment of hope to watch the healthcare workers begin to get vaccinated today," DeWine said. "Today is the first day of a process that will continue over the months ahead as Ohioans who choose to be vaccinated have their opportunity to receive the vaccine.
"However, until the vaccine is widely available for all Ohioans who choose to receive it, we must continue to use all available tools to prevent the spread of the virus, like wearing a mask, keeping your distance, and washing your hands."
Vaccine shipments will be delivered to eight additional hospitals in Ohio tomorrow:
Mercy Health St. Vincent Hospital, Lucas County
Cleveland Clinic, Cuyahoga County
Metro Health Medical Center, Cuyahoga County
Mercy Health Springfield Regional Medical Center, Clark County
OhioHealth Riverside Hospital, Franklin County
Aultman Hospital, Stark County
OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, Athens County
Genesis Hospital, Muskingum County
All 10 hospitals were selected based on geography, population, and access to ultra-cold storage capacity.
As COVID-19 vaccines continue to come to Ohio, Cardinal Health’s OptiFreight Logistics business will help provide same-day delivery services. Once the vaccine is widely available, this partnership will allow Ohio to ship the vaccine to approximately 350 locations across the state.
NURSING HOME VACCINATIONS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has invited Ohio to participate in an early scaled launch of vaccinations in nursing homes. Ohio will begin providing vaccinations in five to ten nursing homes starting this Friday, Dec. 18.
Ohio had previously been scheduled to start its nursing home vaccination program in partnership with pharmacy providers on Monday, Dec. 21.
Ohio will launch a new COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard in the coming days at coronavirus.ohio.gov. The dashboard will list the number of people vaccinated in Ohio and will be sortable by demographic and by county.
In total, there are 570,602 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 reported in Ohio and 7,551 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. A total of 32,264 people have been hospitalized throughout the pandemic, including 5,209 admissions to intensive care units. In-depth data can be accessed by visiting coronavirus.ohio.gov.
Video of today's full update, including versions with foreign language translation, can be viewed on the Ohio Channel's YouTube page.
For more information on Ohio's response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.