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W.Va., not Ohio, seems to have plan figured out

Why is it that the delays and struggles in Ohio’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines — and in many other parts of the country — are not being experienced in neighboring West Virginia?

As demand for the COVID-19 vaccination exceeds supply, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine last week announced plans to further slow the distribution schedule in an attempt to allow supplies to catch up with demand.

Already overloaded with phone calls from residents wanting to schedule vaccination appointments, now 155 of the 722 vaccine providers in the state will have their shipments delayed by a day — forcing them to reschedule appointments.

It’s just the latest in a slew of problems facing Ohio, which has been slow to vaccinate. The state started giving first doses to those at least 80 years old Tuesday, knowing there aren’t enough doses this week to give to even 25 percent of that age group.

“What we need are more vaccines,” DeWine said.

Now DeWine is saying the state can continue with its plans to vaccinate senior citizens ages 75 and up beginning today, but after that, fully expects to delay the vaccines for the next group, ages 70 and up.

But somehow neighboring West Virginia has managed to put more shots in people’s arms than in any other state, with at least 7.5 percent of the population receiving the first of two shots, according to federal data.

According to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, rather than relying on national chains, 250 local pharmacists set up clinics in rural communities. Residents who may have been wary of the vaccine seem to trust them. Indeed, that may be making all the difference there.

Keeping local control rather than implementing a federal plan also seems to have helped, but only because the state was moving forward with such a good plan on its own.

Ohio hasn’t yet figured out how to combat this problem, and until it does, citizens will struggle with the hassles of long delays on hold during scheduling phone calls, overloaded web sites and then waits in line like the ones that occurred last week at the Trumbull County fairgrounds.

And those frustrations aren’t doing anyone a favor.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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