COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As the Delta variant of COVID-19 drives case counts higher across the United States, some people who were once hesitant to get a vaccine are having a change of heart.
NBC4 Investigates analyzed Ohio Department of Health case and vaccination data (backdated to day of first symptoms and day of shot). We found the 7-day average of cases reached its low point and started increasing nine days before new vaccinations did the same. Both continue to rise, hitting recent high points last Friday.
As of Sunday’s data, Ohio’s seven-day rolling average of first doses administered was well over 7,000, peaking at 7,932 on Friday. That’s the highest since mid-June and nearly twice as many as three Fridays before. The average bottomed out at 4,139 on July 8 before going on their current run.
Not every county has seen a discernable increase in vaccinations over the past month, but those that have range widely in population. Delaware County, which has long been Ohio’s most vaccinated at more than 63%, went from around 100 vaccinations a day to eclipsing 150 on three days last week.
Even Holmes County, the least vaccinated at under 16%, went from frequently seeing days of single-digit vaccinations to having three days last week at 17 or 18 new shots. And in Franklin County, the 7-day average of vaccinations topped out at 1,103 last Thursday after being as low as 611 on July 6.
Columbus vaccinations increase with incentives, delta cases
Columbus Public Health reported significant upticks in vaccinations throughout July. The agency gave 2,130 doses the week of July 25, compared to 643 the week of June 27, with gains every week in between.
“We started the Vax for Cash card campaign four weeks ago now, and that brought a lot of people in to get vaccinated,” said CPH Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “And that coincided with starting to see increasing cases, particularly of the delta variant, not only here in our community but across the nation.”
Vax for Cash offers $100 to Columbus residents who get vaccinated at a CPH-run clinic. The program has gained national attention as President Joe Biden urged municipalities to adopt similar programs during an address in late July.
“Some have been very honest,” Roberts said. “It’s the $100 that brought them in.”
But for others sitting in the CPH waiting room Monday morning, it wasn’t about a reward.
“With that delta variant spreading, I think it’s probably wise to get some protection against that,” said Selby Thames.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but then I decided to just come in because I don’t want to get sick,” said Misty Grimmette, who brought her three children with her to also get vaccinated.
“I think most people are persuadable,” Roberts said. “And I think as we see more and more people, unfortunately, getting infected with this, it might hit home for some. They might decide to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.”
While increasing vaccinations are encouraging, Roberts cautioned that masking is still important until cases once again begin to wane.
“I do think that if we don’t mask up now, when we’re at substantial rates of COVID-19 in our community, we could see problems with our workforce,” Roberts said. “We could see issues getting enough kids in the classroom because we have so many people who are out sick or exposed to the illness.”
New guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a mask indoors in counties where the spread of the virus is considered “high” or “substantial.” That includes Franklin County and all of its border counties except Madison.