COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Coronavirus cases are decreasing in the Buckeye State, but so are the vaccinations that keep infections down.
Weekly COVID-19 cases have fallen every week since Sept. 13, when they reached their peak in the Delta variant surge, with 48,580. Last week, the Ohio Department of Health reported 37,586, and the agency’s director believes cases have “plateaued.”
But new vaccinations have been decreasing longer than cases have.
Vaccinations have ebbed and flowed since they began in mid-December, and the surge in cases from the Delta variant – as well as some local and business vaccine incentives – increased new shots.
In just five weeks, new weekly shots more than doubled from 31,430 the week of June 28 to 73,025 the week of Aug. 2. That, however, was their Delta wave peak, and shots have more than halved in the two months since, as Ohio saw just 35,589 vaccinations started last week.
“When more Ohioans are vaccinated,” ODH director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff told reporters Thursday, “it lessens the opportunity for dangerous variants to take hold and helps us on our path to gaining control of this pandemic.”
The steady downward trend has yet to show any overall bucking from the Vax-2-School initiative, which encourages 12- to 25-year-olds to get vaccinated so they can enter scholarship drawings.
More than 58,000 people had entered those drawings as of Monday, according to the state lottery commission, but the number includes those who were already vaccinated.
Still, Vanderhoff said Thursday that Ohio is “doing very, very well” in getting more eligible residents (age 12+) vaccinated.
“We have been encouraged, really encouraged, by the increase in vaccination numbers that we’ve seen across the state just in the course of the last couple of months,” he said, noting that more than 6 in 10 eligible Ohioans – 63.82% as of Wednesday – have started vaccination.
Full vaccination for the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines takes three weeks and four weeks, respectively, but the two shots can be administered up to six weeks apart. Vanderhoff noted that the holiday season is quickly approaching.
“Thanksgiving is just seven weeks away,” he said. “So, if you haven’t yet been vaccinated, now really is the time to talk to your doctor about it, get the facts, and then – I would hope – you choose to be vaccinated.”