Columbus Public Health director says 50-and-older vaccine availability will help vulnerable populations

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Later this week, more than 1 million Ohioans will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, a move Columbus’ top doctor is excited about.

When the state expanded the vaccine eligibility to those 60-years-old and up last week, Columbus Public Health Director Dr. Mysheika Roberts didn’t expect the state to announce 50-year-olds and older would become eligible this week.

But that’s what Gov. Mike DeWine did during his Monday coronavirus briefing, saying Phase 2B of the state’s vaccination plan starts Thursday.

It’s a move Roberts is glad to see, saying the move is important for the Columbus community as a whole, especially minority communities.

The state said starting Thursday, about 1.2 million more Ohioans will become eligible with the 50-and-older group.

In Franklin County, 96 percent of Latinos and 92 percent of African Americans are under the age of 65, Roberts said.

Those communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Bringing the age down to 50 will allow many people in those communities to get vaccinated, Roberts said.

“Obviously, the more people who are eligible, the more demand there’s going to be for the vaccine, but as we get more vaccine supply, we’re going to have vaccine to vaccinate those who want it,” she said. “I think, most importantly, it allows more people in our community, particularly the most vulnerable, our minority community, the opportunity to get protected from this virus sooner rather than later.”

For one, resident Ed King was filled with pure excitement when he heard he’ll be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Thursday.

“Yes!” King said. “That pretty much sums it up.”

King is now working to schedule an appointment for as soon as he can get one. He said one of the things he is most looking forward to once he’s vaccinated is seeing his grandchildren, who he hasn’t seen in a year and a half.

“It’s a year now since we more or less shut down,” he said. “It’s time. You’ve got a vaccine for me, bring it. I’ll take it.”

In addition to those 50 and older, Phase 2B will include Ohioans with Type 2 diabetes and end-stage renal disease.

“I got to tell you, I was really surprised when I found out,” King said. “That was really quick. The jump from 60 to 50, I didn’t expect it yet.”

Roberts said Columbus Public Health will begin scheduling vaccinations for those 50 and older starting Wednesday.

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