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DeWine Urges Eligible Youth Get Vaccinated As Ohio 'Seems To' Be Headed For A Plateau

Ohio Department of Health

With the number of older Ohioans getting vaccinated consistently going up, Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday used his coronavirus briefing to speak to younger residents and urge them to get the shot.

Currently, those age 16 and older are eligible for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, while Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine remains on pause. DeWine said almost a fifth – or 18.6% – of 16- and 17-year-olds have received their first dose, which "is not bad," but he'd like to see more.

"What happens with our younger people is going to determine how fast we can reach herd immunity," he said.

Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said what might not have been a concern for younger Ohioans early in the pandemic should be a concern now.

"Until we get a lot more vaccines in people's arms, the unvaccinated are playing the COVID lottery and it's a lottery where the consequences are pretty stark," he said. Vanderhoff later noted that in the winter, people in their 20s accounted for 3-4% of hospital admissions, but now that number has doubled to 6%.

The state is releasing a series of PSAs featuring young Ohioans who have gotten vaccinated.

Meanwhile, 38% of the state's total population has received their first dose, and 27.5% are now fully vaccinated, DeWine reported.

The governor said cases are still at a high rate, but not going up, which indicates the state may be headed to a plateau. Still, he cautioned the virus is "more contagious than it's ever been."

"We'll feel better when we see a really defined, downward direction," he said. "I don't think we can say we're there yet."

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Jennifer Merritt
Jennifer Merritt brings 15 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU, having served in various digital roles for such legacy publications as InStyle and Parade, as well as start-ups like Levo League and iVillage. She helped these outlets earn several awards, including MIN's 2015 Digital Team of the Year. She graduated from Rutgers University with a journalism major and English minor and has continued her education with professional development classes through the Poynter Institute, Columbia University and PMJA. Before moving to Cincinnati from New York in 2016, she vowed her son would always call it "soda" and not "pop." She has so far been successful in this endeavor.