The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Ohio

Posted on 04/16/21 by Emily Paulin

Virus Outbreak Vaccine Ohio

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Ohio has paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of a type of blood clot that has developed in a small number of people after vaccination. The federal government has called the reaction “extremely rare” but “serious.” If you have an appointment for the J&J vaccine, your provider or state or local health department may honor it with a different vaccine or may reach out to reschedule for a different vaccine. You can also contact your provider or health department for more information. 

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Local vaccination sites, including local health departments, hospitals, health centers, pharmacies and local vaccination events. Ohioans can register with the state’s centralized Vaccine Management System (VMS), which serves as a single location to confirm vaccination eligibility, identify nearby providers and schedule vaccination appointments. All of Ohio’s approximately 3,000 vaccine providers are expected to use the VMS, or have a system that interfaces with the VMS, to schedule appointments. Alternatively, use the state's online vaccine locator tool, searchable by zip code or county, to find a provider and then schedule a vaccination appointment. The tool lists providers’ addresses, contact numbers and websites but does not include whether a provider has vaccines available. Visit providers’ websites or contact them to check availability.
  • Mass vaccination clinics in different regions of the state. Visit this page for the location, opening date and sign-up details for each clinic.
  • Through your employer or living facility. Most Ohioans who are prioritized for a vaccination because of their job, such as a health care worker or a K-12 worker, or where they live, such as a nursing home resident, are being vaccinated through their workplaces or the facilities where they reside. Check with your employer or residence before scheduling a vaccination appointment. County developmental disability boards are reaching out to families of individuals who are eligible due to a qualifying disability. If you have not been contacted, reach out to your county’s board to schedule a vaccination.
  • Veterans Affairs facilities if you are a veteran, spouse or veteran caregiver. Those enrolled in the VA health care system get priority; additional appointments will go to others who are eligible based on their age, health problems and other factors that increase their COVID-19 risk. Sign up with VA to get updates on vaccine availability and to be notified when you can make an appointment. 
  • The state’s COVID line (833-427-5634) can help you find a provider or make an appointment if you are having trouble booking an appointment online or don’t have computer access.
  • Vaccine supplies remain limited in many areas. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be hard to get, as available time slots may be booked quickly, and you might be put on a waiting list. You can sign up at multiple sites to increase your chances of getting an appointment, but once you have confirmed a slot at one site, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule with any other provider so that those slots stay open for others. 

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or another state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccination.

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment. 

How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Ohio are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS, Walgreens, Absolute Pharmacy and Pharmscript to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete. 

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities. 

Which vaccines require a second shot? 

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. 

Providers in Ohio will aim to schedule your second dose at your appointment for your first dose, or potentially even earlier. The state may send you a postcard or text message reminding you to get your second dose based on data that vaccine providers are required to report.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot, though distribution of that vaccine has been paused. 

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine is authorized for those 18 and older. 

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccination lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?  

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccination. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccinations and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card? 

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy. 

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

Yes. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC still recommends taking precautions while in public — including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of the vaccines against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus. 

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of them are at a high risk for severe COVID-19.

Helpful resources

  • Local health departments can provide information on where to get vaccinated in your area. The state is encouraging Ohioans to sign up to receive vaccine updates from local health departments, if available.
  • Free transportation services to the Wolstein Center mass vaccination clinic are available. If you need transportation to or from a vaccination appointment, call 2-1-1.

This guide, published Dec. 18, was updated April 16 with new information on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

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This story is provided by AARP Ohio. Visit the AARP Ohio page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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