Ohio expands vaccine eligibility

COLUMBUS — Ohioans age 40 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination beginning this Friday, as well as residents with cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and obesity.

All Ohioans become eligible for a vaccine beginning Monday, March 29 — however, vaccines are only approved for ages 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for age 16 and older; the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved only for those 18 and older.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement at a Tuesday morning briefing.

“It’s a moral imperative that we move as quickly as we can to vaccinate all Ohioans who wish to be vaccinated,” DeWine said. “We expect a significant increase in vaccines coming to Ohio soon, so we will expand vaccine eligibility.”

DeWine was in Cleveland Tuesday to commemorate the opening of the state’s mass vaccination site at Cleveland State University. It will be open for the next eight weeks.

The center is staffed by Army and Ohio National Guard troops. About 1,500 people per day are expected to be vaccinated initially, then eventually up to a capacity of 6,000 daily.

More than 2.3 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine in Ohio as of Monday, or about 20% of the population, according to the state health department. About 1.4 million people have completed the vaccination process, or about 12%.

Latest numbers

As of Tuesday on the State of Ohio’s COVID-19 dashboard, the state has had 845,116 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 147,107 probable cases for a total of 992,223. These include 51,756 hospitalizations, of which there have been 7,287 ICU admissions. A total of 18,114 deaths are attributed to COVID-19.

Ohio remains at 155 cases per 100,000 population.

Fayette County has totaled 2,718 cases with 221 hospitalizations and 43 deaths, the state reports.

Sports and more

DeWine announced Monday that Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud issued an addendum that updates quarantine guidance for student athletes and participants in extracurricular activities who may have been incidentally exposed to COVID-19 in a classroom setting.

For spring sports and extracurricular activities, students will not be required to quarantine because they have an incidental exposure to COVID-19 in a classroom under the school-based exposure guidance unless symptoms develop. Students will now be permitted to participate in organized sporting and extracurricular activities as long as they remain symptom-free and follow applicable safety precautions.

However, students who are exposed in other settings outside of the classroom will be required to continue following existing CDC quarantine guidance.

Minimum age lowered; medical conditions added

By Tom Barr

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