DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – One in four Ohioans is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.
But doctors and health officials warn there’s still a long way to go to reach the roughly 75-80% of the population needed to achieve herd immunity.
“We’re finding out that people who are vaccinated, who are fully vaccinated, are very well protected,” said Dr. Roberto Colon, chief medical officer of Miami Valley Hospital.
With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause potentially stoking additional hesitancy, Dr. Colon said, he and other doctors are focused on alleviating concerns about safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines to encourage more people to get the shot.
“We’re not anywhere near where we need to be,” Dr. Colon said. “We have got to continue this. It’s a great start.”
But some health officials are worried that great start has come to an abrupt end.
“Optimistic or hopeful are not words that I would describe the general mood right now for reaching herd immunity,” said Charles Patterson, Clark County health commissioner. “We know that the demand for vaccine has basically fallen off a cliff in the last week.”
Last week alone, the Clark County Combined Health District had nearly 2,000 vaccine appointments go unfilled, Patterson said. As of Monday afternoon, about 1,500 slots are still available this week, he added.
Interest in the vaccine has been significantly lower among people ages 16 to 40, Patterson said, and officials are looking at different ways to reach those groups.
“While we continue to have our vaccinations at the former JC Penney store, we’re also going to be all over the place,” Patterson said. “So don’t be surprised when you drive down the street in a busy street in Springfield, and you see the health department there giving vaccines.”
If you have been fully vaccinated, it’s important to continue wearing masks in public and limiting large gatherings since the majority of the population has not been vaccinated, and the virus is still spreading, Dr. Colon said.