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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine responds to calls to drop COVID-19 vaccine age thresholds

On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine responded to calls to end age as a determining factor in eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine.

CEDARVILLE, Ohio — On Monday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that those 50-years-old and older, as well as those with Type 2 diabetes, will be eligible for the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine beginning on Thursday.

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Some in the state, however, believe that age should no longer be a factor in determining such eligibility.

At his press briefing on Monday, DeWine was asked about those requests, including one that came from Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. And while the Ohio Governor stood by his decision to continue to use age as a determining factor for vaccine eligibility, he did indicate that beginning on Thursday, the age groups most affected by COVID-19 will be eligible for the vaccine.

"If we go to 50 [years-old], which we've done, which we'll do on Thursday, open [vaccinations] up to 50, people 50-years-old and older account for, I think, 97 or 98 percent of the deaths," DeWine said on Monday. "So it is just the best indicator. And it is so important that we don't get sidetracked. We have gone off to do some specific things. We started with our health professionals because they have to be protected to protect us and it's the right thing to do. We did teachers because we wanted to get kids back in schools.

"We've gone and listened to the medical science, listened to the data in regard to what medical conditions for those people under the age that we are at make them that much more vulnerable to death and we've added those and we continue to expand those. But the vast majority of what we have done has been focused on age. And by taking this now to 50, what that means is if everybody 50 and above is vaccinated, you would knock out 98 percent of the deaths. So making that as quickly as we can was very, very important."

So does that mean the next expansion of Ohio's vaccine eligibility won't be as focused on age? DeWine wasn't ready to say.

"We'll continue to look. We'll continue to look at who has the most risk and it's an ongoing process," DeWine said. "And it's an ongoing kind of consultation with the medical experts."

You can watch DeWine's full press briefing in the video player below: