COLUMBUS, Ohio – State officials have decided to only take 20.1% of first coronavirus vaccine doses that the federal government has allotted Ohio this week, with the remaining either being put in storage for future use or going to other states.
This is the first time Ohio has agreed for vaccines to be sent to other states with higher demand, as well as a sign of the slumped demand in Ohio.
The federal government offered Ohio 324,960 first doses this week: 173,160 Pfizer first doses, 131,500 of Moderna first doses and 20,300 of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
The following is what Ohio decided for the allotment:
-65,370 first doses will arrive in the state this week, or 20.1% of the allotment. This includes some Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses.
-With the possibility that the Pfizer vaccine will soon be approved for children ages 12 to 15, the state asked the federal government to save 139,230 Pfizer doses in a stockpile stored at the federal level, or 42.8%.
-The remaining 120,360 first doses will go to other states, or 37%. These are Moderna and J&J doses.
“Vaccine is precious,” Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Alicia Shoults said. “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. 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.”
In addition to the 65,370 first doses that are coming to Ohio, other doses may end up in the state that aren’t part of the Ohio’s allotment tally. That’s because they’re shipped directly to companies such as Kroger and others that participate in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. Many of those companies will likely choose to send shots to Ohio.
The 139,230 Pfizer doses that are being sent to the stockpile are in addition to 480,180 doses of vaccine that the state previously asked the federal government to warehouse for Ohio. The doses weren’t immediately needed and were never sent to the state. They’ll remain in storage until the state asks for them, Shoults said.
The state learned of this week’s allocation for Johnson & Johnson last Monday and of Pfizer and Moderna on Wednesday. For the remainder of last week, it reached out to pharmacies, health departments, hospitals, clinics and other vaccine providers to discuss how many of the vaccines they needed.
State officials feel it’s important to contribute to the federal pool for other states “because there may be a time when Ohio also needs to use this shared vaccine pool,” Shoults said.
After months in which millions of Ohioans were frustrated that they hadn’t received a COVID-19 vaccine fast enough, demand has slumped. People who were most enthusiastic about getting shots received them and now the state is attempting to reach people who have been more hesitant, and who wanted to wait to see how friends and family members fared after their vaccines.
These days, the number of people receiving their second dose has outpaced the number of first doses. For instance, 39,160 vaccines were completed on Sunday, compared to 29,366 that were started.
A total of 4.8 million Ohioans have started their vaccines and 4.1 million have completed them.
“Every week, we will make a decision based on what is in the best interest of Ohioans,” Shoults 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.”