DeWine hopes for centralized online COVID vaccine scheduler by mid-February

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in Ohio may get easier as soon as mid-February once the state unveils a centralized scheduling system.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday said he hopes that on or around Feb. 14 Ohio can activate a state-run system to schedule vaccine appointments and offer a simpler solution than the current patchwork system of scheduling locally.

“What we would hope is a seamless experience where someone can go on online and put in the ZIP Code, put in their county,” DeWine said at Thursday afternoon’s coronavirus briefing. “It would come up (with) the places that have been incorporated into that system and it would tell you which ones have vaccine available for the week.”

Ohio currently has a locally controlled system in which people register for vaccination appointments via their local health department, local hospital or a private provider like Giant Eagle, Kroger Pharmacies and others. This portal would allow people to make appointments directly in one system.

In the past week, local scheduling issues have been reported with Kroger and The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

Ohio would join other large states like Florida and New Jersey that already have centralized sign-up systems.

“We would encourage providers to join this system,” DeWine said, hinting that it will likely be voluntary for vaccine providers to join the scheduling system. He added that in the next few days his administration will notify providers they can sign up.

The governor also noted that hospitals may currently have their own scheduling systems and not want to link in directly with the state’s system, but “that will be something you can still navigate from the portal that we’re going to establish. You will then just go into their system and register through their system.”

DeWine called this new state-run portal an improvement but noted it does not solve a problem for people with no access to a computer.

“We’re continuing to work at the local level to get more places where people can actually call and use the phone when they cannot use the computer,” he said.

This week Ohio began vaccinating people 70 and up, as well as the first round of K-12 school staff. Next week, people 65 and up will become eligible. DeWine said Thursday that Ohio will then stay at the 65+ age group for multiple weeks as vaccine supply tries to meet demand.

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