COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A gap in COVID-19 vaccination rates between younger and older Ohioans is showing itself in changes in who is dying from the virus.  

47.36% of Ohioans have gotten at least one shot of a vaccine, but only the youngest age groups trail that average, including 46.21% for 30-39-year-olds and 39.22% of 20-29-year-olds.

The most vaccinated Ohioans are those over 60 – who have had vaccine access the longest – as all those age groups have 71% or more with a vaccine dose. Well below that but still above the state average are 50-59-year-olds (about 61% vaccinated) and 40-49-year-olds (about 53% vaccinated).

Age Group% Vaccination Started
Data: Ohio Dept. of Health. *Only ages 12+ cleared for vaccine.

Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday said his data team estimates Ohio is seeing 100 deaths a week from COVID-19, but they are not spread out equally among age groups.

“During the winter surge, more than half the people who were dying were 80 or older,” he said at a press conference, “Today, those 40-79 … make up more than 65% of our deaths.”

An NBC4 analysis of coronavirus death data from the Ohio Department of Health supports that finding, while also noting that deaths now are dramatically less than in the winter. Still, vaccination rates across age groups have slowed statewide since the end of March – with a small bump after the Vax-A-Million announcement.

Before the first vaccinations in Ohio on Dec. 14, 2020, people 80 and over made up 53% of Ohio’s COVID-19 deaths. Since the vaccine was made available to everyone 16 and up on March 29, they make up just 31% of deaths.

In those same time periods – before vaccinations and after 16+ availability – Ohioans aged 60-69 rose from 13.46% of deaths to 23.35%, and 50-59-year-olds jumped from 5.2% to 13.72%. The next three age groups – 40-49, 30-39 and 20-29 – also saw increases.

Age GroupShare of COVID-19 deaths through Dec. 13, 2020Share of COVID-19 deaths since March 29Change (pct. pts.)
Data: Ohio Dept. of Health

The table above shows that since vaccines have been available to everyone 16+, deaths of Ohioans 70+ from COVID-19 have dropped 22 percentage points from when no vaccine was available. In their place, the share of deaths of Ohioans aged 30-69 has increased 22 points.

“It’s easy for us to develop a new normal in our minds, to accept something that is so much of an improvement as an indication that we’re out of the woods,” ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said at a press conference Thursday.

“But we’re not. The reality is, losing 100 people a week from what is essentially a vaccine-preventable illness is really tragic.”

“We know if we’re going to get through” a possible surge of infections in the winter, and a new, more infectious Delta variant of the virus, “we’ve got to step up and have more people vaccinated,” DeWine said. “And the age group where we can make the most movement is those who are 12 to 35, or 12 to 40. That’s the most under-vaccinated group.”