COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The top doctor in Columbus says they are one day away from being out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Mike DeWine today rolled out a vaccination plan, starting with people 80 years and older, but Columbus Public Health’s Dr. Mysheika Roberts told NBC4 hundreds of local vaccine appointments will have to be cancelled.
“As of close of business tomorrow, we will be out of vaccine,” Dr. Roberts confirmed to NBC4.
Roberts says the inconsistent vaccine supply is crippling their vaccination rollout process.
“It’s very frustrating because I think it’s taken us a good three weeks to really get the momentum in the community, and getting people excited and willing to roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated,” Dr. Roberts admits. “To have to put out foot on the brake, or definitely slow down, because we don’t have vaccine supply is very frustrating, very disappointing.”
The pause on vaccinations could impact people like 66-year-old MaryBeth Burkley, waiting for a return to normal life.
“There are weeks the only people I see are when I go to the grocery store at 6 a.m. one day a week,” says Burkley. “Every time I think about the delay, I get very anxious. I’m totally isolated and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.”
As health officials expand the eligible group to those 65-and-older, vaccinations will first start with those 80-and-up. Meaning it could be weeks, or even months, before the vaccine is available to those like Burkley.
“It’s scary to think that it might be that long,” Burkley admits.
But with plans in place to expand vaccinations, providers are at the mercy of government leaders.
“If the state of Ohio, which has a population of over 11 million is only getting 100,000 doses a week, you can imagine it’s going to take us some time to get our community vaccinated,” says Dr. Roberts.
As we move forward in the vaccination process, officials say education is crucial to guiding that elderly population through the process.
“We’re working with senior advocate groups, senior citizen groups, our rec centers that have senior citizen groups, to get that information to as many people as possible.”
Burkley is growing anxious by the slower than expected rollout, and frustrated by the lack of direction other groups have received.
“They have had, or will have, organizations say, ‘okay, you go that day, and you’re going to get your vaccine.’ We are just, ‘Okay, well it’s available. But good luck in getting it,'” Burkey worries.
It’s a sense of loneliness that health officials hope to eliminate for a vulnerable population.
“For our populations that are elderly or have a lot of medical conditions, that vaccine is the key to resuming some sense or normalcy again,” Dr. Roberts describes.
Dr. Roberts also says more information on COVID-19 vaccinations will be updated on Tuesday.
Health officials say they are going to get that information on their webpage, their social media platforms, and to the media, to help educate individuals on how they can go about receiving their vaccine.