Amid rising rates of infection of the deadly COVID-19 virus, several steps are being taken both locally and statewide to increase vaccinations.
The Columbus Metropolitan Library is partnering with Columbus Public Health to increase vaccinations by both providing free COVID-19 vaccines at library branches until Aug. 4, and at 10 neighborhood satellite clinics until Aug. 16. Appointments are not necessary for either site. Columbus Public Health will also offer $100 Visa cash cards to people getting their first vaccine at the satellite clinics. For more details, visit bit.ly/3r5ggSn.
The state will also announce a second coronavirus vaccine incentive program to boost vaccination rates, Gov. Mike DeWine said during a July 13 press conference. DeWine did not provide details, but hinted it could include receiving smaller amounts of prize money, meant to spread out the odds so more people win. He said he’s concerned about the continued spread of the so-called delta variant of COVID-19, as well as the fact that some parts of Ohio still have low vaccination rates.
The highly contagious delta variant, first identified in India and now spreading in more than 90 other countries, will be dominant in Ohio by month’s end, DeWine said. The governor also noted that 99% of Ohioans hospitalized with the coronavirus are unvaccinated.
“Anybody who’s not been vaccinated is just very vulnerable with this delta variant on the loose,” the Republican governor said. “That’s the real challenge.”
The governor said some people are motivated by big prizes, while others are motivated by smaller but still significant amounts of money with better odds, according to experts.
Nearly 5.7 million people in the state received at least one shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as of July 20, or almost 49% of the total population, according to the Ohio Department of Health. About 5.3 million people, or 45%, have completed the process.
Some counties, particularly in rural Ohio areas, have much lower rates, including 24% in Adams County in southern Ohio, 30% in Darke County in western Ohio, and 32% in Noble County in eastern Ohio, according to ODH data.
The governor said, “Ohio probably needs another million people to be vaccinated.”
In May, DeWine launched the national movement to offer millions of dollars in incentives to boost vaccination rates, including five million-dollar prizes and five full-ride college scholarships. The state concluded the program last month with mixed results. Initially, the May 12 announcement had the desired effect, leading to a 43% boost in state vaccination numbers over the previous week. But numbers of vaccinations dropped afterward. Other states followed Ohio’s lead, including California,Colorado, Louisiana,Maryland and New York, with the effect on vaccinations hard to pin down.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.