COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Ahead of what is usually the one of the biggest party nights of the year, Columbus Heath Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts spoke with NBC4 digital anchor Kristine Varkony about COVID-19 vaccine distribution and her goals for the next 90 days.
Dr. Roberts says Phase 1A of vaccine distribution here in Columbus is “a mixed bag.” As of Dec. 29, around 6,000, or 0.5%, of people in Franklin County have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
She says hospitals are doing a great job getting the vaccine into the arms of their workers, but there are still many more who are eligible to get the vaccine right now who have not. She attributes this slower than anticipated vaccination rate to it being the holiday season and many people being off work.
“We’ve been offering our vaccine clinic to our first responders, specifically EMS and our home health providers, our long-term care providers as well as outpatient care providers. We’re hoping that the uptick of that vaccine picks up next week when the holidays are over,” she stated.
Dr. Roberts doesn’t have a hard, fast date for when Phase 1B will happen, but her best guess would be the end of January.
In Ohio, Phase 1B includes a massive number of people: everyone 65 and older, those born with a congenital disease, and all K-12 teachers.
“When we open it up to Phase 1B, we will be communicating to the public on every different venue we have to share with them where they can get [the vaccine],” Dr. Roberts said.
She says she anticipates people to be able to get the vaccine at their private providers, pharmacies, and local health department and clinics.
“There will be multiple venues, not only for those who are over 65 but also for our K-12 educators to go and get the vaccine,” she explained.
Dr. Roberts says the city’s stay home advisory that started just before Thanksgiving seems to be working, but as we are on the cusp of what is usually one of the biggest party nights of the year, efforts to avoid gatherings need to be sustained, she says.
“Our hospitals over the last week have shown a definite decline in cases, which is good news. They’re starting to see some relief there. We want to be able to sustain that,” stated Dr. Roberts.
The stay home advisory is set to expire in a few days. Dr. Roberts says she and Mayor Andrew Ginther do not have a plan currently to extend it, but it has not been ruled out.
“My goal over the next 90 days is going to be twofold: do everything we can do in our community to reduce the number of cases so we can also reduce our impact on our hospitals,” said Dr. Roberts. “We don’t want to be another California. I watch the Nightly News every night, and I see what is happening in California. I do not want that to happen here. And then, we want to vaccinate people. We want to continue to vaccinate as many people as possible.”