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A Letter from Lance D. Himes, ODH Interim Director, on the COVID-19 Vaccination

A Letter from Lance D. Himes, ODH Interim Director, on the COVID-19 Vaccination

October 23, 2020

Good afternoon,

In anticipation of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, the Governor’s Pandemic Recovery and Response Leadership Team has created a Vaccine Preparedness Office to coordinate a smooth and swift distribution and vaccination process statewide.

Two promising vaccine candidates, developed by Pfizer/BioNTech/Fosun Pharma and Moderna/National Institutes of Health, are in large-scale clinical trials in the United States. Two additional vaccine candidates developed by Johnson & Johnson/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and AstraZeneca/Oxford are in the later stages of development, but trials are currently on pause. We are closely monitoring guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Operation Warp Speed, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the status of each vaccine candidate and are hopeful that one or multiple vaccines might be approved in the coming weeks and months.

Once a vaccine has been approved, Ohio expects to receive shipments allocated by the federal government with guidance to first vaccinate high-risk populations including healthcare workers and older adults.

In preparation for receiving a vaccine, Ohio has launched an inter-agency working team in collaboration with partners such as yourselves to create and execute a comprehensive vaccination program.

We are focused on immediate preparedness for:

  1. A statewide provider distribution framework following CDC advice on phased deployment of the vaccine.

  2. A Receipt, Storage, and Staging (RSS) warehouse for repackaging and redistributing vaccines to medium-sized and smaller providers across Ohio.

  3. Onboarding partners to the immunization provider registry, and reviewing progress with stakeholders and the public.

As important stakeholders in our fight against COVID-19, you can expect regular stakeholder communications going forward. Later this week, we will launch our provider enrollment process, with a goal of registering all interested vaccine providers in the coming weeks. Additionally, we plan to launch a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination program website that will streamline the communications process.

We invite you to direct questions and feedback to Russ Kennedy ( and Haylee Dunahay ( ) who will lead our stakeholder engagement efforts. Additionally, please refer to CDC guidance ( for more information on vaccine approval and distribution.

If you are not the correct person within your organization to receive our updates in the future, please provide the appropriate contact information (name, title, email address and phone number) to the email addresses above.

Thank you for your continued partnership and support in this critical effort to protect Ohioans and end this pandemic.


Lance D. Himes
Interim Director
Ohio Department of Health
246 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone: (614) 466-2253
Phone: (614) 644-8202 (Direct)

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