< Back to Association News

OUR TAKE: Operation Warp Speed is Underway

By Joe Russell, Ececutive Director, OCHCH

Everyone knows by now that vaccine distributions are well underway in Ohio. But as Karen Carpenter once said “we’ve only just begun”. The state is doing an incredible job, but lots of work is left before we can call this a success.On Monday, Governor DeWine reviewed Phases 1A and 1B of Ohio’s vaccine distribution plan. Like most states, Ohio is taking a phased approach that prioritizes the most vulnerable citizens, those in the healthcare field, and school staff members because the availability of the vaccine remains limited.Phase 1A—which is currently underway—includes approximately 1 million Ohioans such as home care and hospice personnel. 

The state has said that vaccine distribution in Phase 1B will begin as Phase 1A begins to wind down, but when that happen will depend on supply. Phase 1B focuses largely on those who are 65 and older. Those in this age group are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and make up more than 87 percent of Ohioans who have died from the virus. Phase 1B also includes school teachers and other school staff who will be offered the vaccine in an effort to get Ohio’s children back to school as soon as possible. In total, Phase 1B includes an estimated 2.2 million people.
Details of future phases of the vaccination plan will be announced as Phases 1A and 1B progress and as Ohio receives vaccines for the future phases. Ohio is currently receiving roughly 100,000 vaccines each week, although that number could increase if more vaccines are approved for administration.While the communication from the state has been fantastic, the on-the-ground turn around and deployment at the county level has depended on which county you live. Some counties have been well prepared to distribute vaccines and so action has been quick, while other counties have needed for lead-time to act. Whatever the case, here’s what we know right now:Second doses begin this week – Second doses are beginning this week for PfizerBioNTech vaccines administered at the 10 pre-positioned hospitals and nursing and veterans homes in the federal pilot program, for those with first doses administered the week of December 14, 2020. Providers should expect regular shipments including the second doses approximately three weeks after the first dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and four weeks after the first dose for the Moderna vaccine. For additional information on second doses, please see this provider guidance document.
FDA releases statement on changing dosing – In a thorough statement, the FDA said, “We have been following the discussions and news reports about reducing the number of doses, extending the length of time between doses, changing the dose (half-dose), or mixing and matching vaccines in order to immunize more people against COVID-19. These are all reasonable questions to consider and evaluate in clinical trials. However, at this time, suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence.” Read more.
Data collection FAQ available now – ODH has compiled a comprehensive document with questions and answers for COVID-19 Data Reporting (ImpactSIIS, CSV, HL7 and TP/O), including a chart of TP/O codes.
Moderna offering webinars for healthcare providers – Moderna is offering a free webinar for healthcare providers about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on January 14 at 11 a.m.
Communications toolkit translations now available – Translations of the English COVID-19 Vaccine Communications Toolkit issued Dec. 20, 2020 are now available in the following languages. Additional updates to the toolkit are forthcoming. o Nepali o Somali o Spanish (United States)What we’ve been hearing from the ground, is that county boards of health are asking providers to submit information about their workforce through on online form such as Google Docs. Then the county board is scheduling vaccinations. While some counties are doing vaccines person-by-person, we’ve heard some agencies being directed to centralized “drive-through” vaccine stations, while others have been able to administer “close pod” vaccinations. It just depends.Every county might have different processes for closed pod vaccinations. For example, we sent out communication that directed our agencies to request closed pod vaccination. Since then we’ve learned that closed PODs are not locations that public health staff will go and administer vaccine (i.e. a clinic).  That is not a resource they provide. A Closed POD is a location where they provide that location with vaccine, and the nurses at that location will vaccinate everyone that wants a vaccine at that location. It is not open to the public, it is just for the people at that location.  Simply put, they provide the vaccine and your agency staff do the work under their guidance. Some counties will be contacting home health agencies when they get to those agencies, while others are doing these by request.The bottom line is that your agency should be in regular communication with your county board of health about vaccinating your staff. Follow the process they lay-out and your team WILL get vaccinated. In the meantime, please be patient. We’re dialed in here so if you have questions please email Helpdesk.

Click here to see the Ohio Vaccine Preparedness Office Covid Update!