By Jenna Thomas
The long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is slowly making its way into the arms of Ohioans. The end of January marks a transition from phase ‘1A’ to ‘1B.’ Phase 1B covers adults ages 65 and older, Ohioans with severe congenital or developmental conditions, and K-12 teachers. They will use the following timeline:
Jan. 19, 2021–Ohioans 80 years of age and older.
Jan. 25, 2021–Ohioans 75 years of age and older; those with a developmental or intellectual disability AND one of the conditions listed on this page.
Feb. 1, 2021–Ohioans 70 years of age and older; employees of K-12 schools
Feb. 8, 2021–Ohioans 65 years of age and older.
Feb. 15, 2021–Ohioans with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset, and inherited conditions.
Including teachers in this phase of distribution was met with both enthusiasm and frustration. A statement from the teacher’s unions at Ohio’s eight largest school districts noted that the inclusion of teachers in this phase of vaccine distribution came at a price: a commitment to reopen schools by March 1.
“We are disappointed that Governor DeWine has decided to use the distribution of a life-saving vaccine as a bargaining chip, holding this precious commodity hostage while pitting parents, administrators, teachers, other school workers, and students against each other.”
It is unclear whether all K-12 teachers will be vaccinated between when their eligibility opens on Feb. 1 and the March 1 goal. Although there might not be consequences for a delayed reopening, Governor Dewine’s statements worry teachers.
The large-scale distribution has not gone without other hiccups. At the beginning of the month, Cleveland had only distributed 15% of its vaccine stock, compared to 50% in Summit County and 40% in Columbus. Nationwide, concerns around scaling up vaccine distribution were heightened once it was uncovered that the Trump administration lied about vaccine reserves that were already dried up.
Estimates still predict wide availability for even younger adults in April or May, but the logistical roadblocks could push that date further into the summer.