Ohio could receive a coronavirus vaccine as early as next month, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday, as he continued his plea for Ohioans to help stop the spread of the deadly virus.
He said it’s not clear which vaccine the state will receive or when in December it will be available, but the federal government is hoping to get it out next month.
Ohio’s first shipment is expected to include about 35,000 units. The state will prioritize distributing the vaccine to nursing homes and health care workers initially, DeWine said, and it is unlikely that Ohio will have enough vaccines in its first shipment for anyone in the general public.
On Tuesday, DeWine announced the 10 locations across the state that will receive the vaccine once it is given emergency-use authorization.
In regions 3 and 6, which make up the Miami Valley, Springfield Regional Medical Center and University of Cincinnati Medical Center were chosen.
The locations were decided based on population, geography and access to ultra-cold storage capacity. Other locations will also receive shipments of the vaccine once they get final approval.
DeWine said Ohio needs to take action to get from the current surge in cases and hospitalizations to when a vaccine is available.
He hopes that a 21-day curfew, which is scheduled to start Thursday, will help decrease the spread of the virus, but he noted that Ohioans still need to continue to wear a mask, reduce contact with people outside their household and frequently wash their hands.
“It still comes back to what individual Ohioans do,” the governor said.
The governor said the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew may not change the habits of many people, but it may change things for college students, he said. He said it was an attempt to avoid shutting down the economy, but hopefully people will take it seriously and pull back, he said.
Dr. Kevin Sharrett of Kettering Health Network also stressed that people need to continue to follow health guidelines and likened the virus to a fire.
“If you do have to go out, wear a mask," he said. “Other than social distancing and staying away from the fire, it is the best tool that we have.”
Though hospitals are currently able to keep up with increase in COVID-19 patients, he said they are strained.
“Right now patients are being cared for,” Sharrett said. “We have not exhausted resources. But let’s make no bones about it, we’re feeling the heat."
While hospitals have the resources to care for patients, the concern is staffing, he said. Health care workers are continuing to get sick, adding to the strain of increased patients.
“Without them, we can’t provide the care that’s needed for everyone else,” he said.
Sharrett said Ohio is in the darkest hour right now, and while Ohio will be able to get through this dark hour, he said he worries about how many peoples' lives will be permanently changed before it is all over.
“The best thing that anyone can do is to avoid this virus and take it seriously,” he said. “Because when one falls, we all fall.”