COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Buckeye State is close to hitting a modest but important vaccination milestone as the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 sweeps through the United States.

The Ohio Department of Health on Tuesday reported 49.53% of the population has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Rounded up, that’s 50% of all Ohioans vaccinated for the virus.

Until the number officially hits 50%, though, Ohio remains one of 16 states with less than half of its people vaccinated, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ohio is joined by neighbors Indiana and West Virginia and clusters of states in the South and West.

Despite the 50% milestone on the horizon, vaccinations in Ohio this summer have been their slowest of the pandemic. It took more than 100 days for the state to go from 39.5% to 49.5% vaccinated, according to an NBC4 analysis of ODH data backdated to the day of vaccination.

That’s the longest Ohio has taken to reach a multiple-of-ten vaccination percentage, and it’s twice as long than the state took to vaccinate its first 10% of people:

Vaccination milestoneLength of timeDates
0% to 9.5%53 daysDec. 14, 2020 to Feb. 5
9.5% to 19.5%34 daysFeb. 5 to March 11
19.5% to 29.5%18 daysMarch 11 to March 29
29.5% to 39.5%23 daysMarch 29 to April 21
39.5% to 49.5%104 daysApril 21 to Aug. 3
Source: Ohio Dept. of Health

Although an NBC4 Investigates analysis on Monday found a small uptick in new vaccinations since early July, cases continue to climb faster than the shots fighting them. In four weeks, Ohio’s weekly reported cases (Monday through Sunday) have increased from 1,978 to 2,842 to 4,995 to 8,030.  

Last week’s total was the most in a Monday-Sunday period since May 3-9, and five straight days last week of more than 1,000 cases was the longest streak since May 4-8.

Ohio’s 21-day average of daily cases now sits at 855 after being in the mid-200s less than a month ago, and just Tuesday Ohio reported its most cases in a day – 1,769 – since April 29.

The rate of backdated cases per 100,000 people over two weeks is 104.54, according to NBC4’s math. The state’s mask mandate came off when that rate lowered to 50 per 100,000 in June, but Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration has yet to levy anything more restrictive than mask recommendations for unvaccinated people.

The CDC, however, recommends masks for even vaccinated people in areas with “high” or “substantial” spread of the virus. As of Tuesday, that applies to 66 of 88 Ohio counties, including Franklin and all its neighboring counties except Madison.

Local public agencies, though, like Columbus Public Schools and The Ohio State University have issued universal mask mandates.

CDC vaccination data, which is slightly behind ODH’s, shows 61.1% of Ohioans 18 years and older with a shot of a vaccine, as well as 58.5% of Ohioans 12 and up. Those lag behind their respective nationwide percentages: 70% and 67.6%.