YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll into Ohio, and on Monday, the age cut-off will decrease by five years. This means people ages 75 and older will be able to get the vaccine.
The vaccine distribution also opens up to people under that age who have serious underlying health problems laid out by the governor’s office.
“We’re all in the same pile. They get one shipment to the state of Ohio, then they disburse it,” said Erin Bishop, the healthcare commissioner of Youngstown’s City Health Department.
Ohio will start vaccinating people 75 and older this week.
“That’s our goal. Every week, we’re getting out and getting into the community where they need to be,” Bishop said.
Some Ohioans younger than 75 who have a severe health issue and a developmental disability are also eligible to get the vaccine.
Those medical conditions include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Spina bifida
- Severe congenital heart disease requiring hospitalization within the past year
- Severe type 1 diabetes requiring hospitalization within the past year
- Inherited metabolic disorders including phenylketonuria
- Severe neurological disorders including epilepsy, hydrocephaly and microcephaly
- Severe genetic disorders including Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Turner syndrome and muscular dystrophy
- Severe lung disease, including asthma requiring hospitalization within the past year and cystic fibrosis
- Sickle cell anemia
- Alpha and beta thalassemia
- Solid organ transplant patients
“Severe asthma that has put you in the hospital over the last year, severe heart disease that has put you in the hospital. Not everyone who has asthma can get it,” Bishop said.
The Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities began administering the vaccines at the Leonard Kirtz School in Austintown. The clinic was by appointment only.
“It was like a small tap on my arm right here, and it didn’t hurt at all,” said one patient there.
Youngstown City Health Department says it doesn’t yet have a system in place to verify that someone has one of the approved conditions, but a plan could be on the way.
“We have a call with the governor on Monday to see what other places are doing. I just have a hard time asking someone to verify a condition,” Bishop said.
This week, they will also begin administering second doses of the vaccine.
Bishop says the people she’s talked to are so relieved to be able to get the vaccine.
“I saw so many people last week who were teary-eyed because, for them, this is a way they can see their kids again. There are people who have not seen their children in almost a year,” Bishop said. “A lot of people have not left their home — have not left their house since March.”
Starting February 1, Ohioans 70 years old and up and employees of K-12 schools that wish to remain or return to in-person classes will be eligible to get the vaccine.
For more information on testing sites and vaccine information, check the links below:
- Local COVID-19 testing sites
- Mahoning County vaccine information
- Trumbull County vaccine information
- Columbiana County vaccine information
- Mercer and Lawrence counties are still waiting to hear Phase 1B plans for COVID-19 vaccine
- Ohio’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program
- COVID-19 update in Youngstown