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What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person. This can happen when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, or speaks and their germs get in the air. These germs can make people very sick. This is why it is important that you wear a mask and keep your distance from others. Social distancing can be harder for some people with disabilities, especially people who live in facilities or rely on others for their care. Making sure to wash your hands regularly and to not share items with anyone who is sick can also help keep you healthy.

What is the COVID-19 vaccine and how does it work?

The COVID-19 vaccine is a medicine that helps your body fight off these germs and stop them from getting you sick. To get this medicine, you will be given two shots in your arm. After the first shot, you will be handed a vaccination card or printout during your visit that will tell you when to return for the second vaccine shot. This will usually be around 21 or 28 days later. Both shots are needed for the vaccine to work.

However, if you had a severe allergic reaction after getting your first shot, you should talk to your doctor about whether to get the second shot.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Before you decide to get the COVID-19 vaccine, you will be given information about the medicine and its safety. Scientists from around the world have found the vaccine to be safe and effective. You may feel tired or have soreness in your arm, a mild fever, or body aches after the shot. This is normal and expected.

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the COVID-19 vaccine or to other types of vaccines in the past, you should speak to your doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine to make sure it is safe for you.

How many different kinds of the COVID-19 vaccine are there?

There are two brands of the vaccine that have been approved in the United States. Their names are Pfizer and Moderna. There is not much of a difference between the two vaccines. However, your second vaccine shot must be the same brand as your first vaccine shot. For example, if your first shot was the Moderna vaccine, then you will be given the Moderna vaccine for your second shot. If your first shot was the Pfizer vaccine, then your second shot must be the Pfizer vaccine.

How much will it cost to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccine should be offered to you for free or at low-cost.

Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

A few people will get the vaccine first because there is only a small amount of the medicine available right now. As more vaccines are sent to Ohio, more people will be added to the list to get the vaccine. Below is the list of people who are in Phase 1A and will get the vaccine first.
• Healthcare workers (like those in hospitals) who take care of COVID-19 patients.
• People who live or work in nursing homes.
• People who live or work in assisted living facilities.
• Patients and staff at state psychiatric hospitals.
• People with intellectual disabilities and those with mental illness who live in group homes or centers and staff who work with them there.
• Residents and staff of Ohio’s veterans homes.
• Emergency Medical Services workers.

The next group of people to get the vaccine will be those in Phase 1B, which includes:
• Ohioans, age 65 and up.
• Younger people with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders
• Adults who work in schools that agree to have in-person classes

Phase 1B vaccinations began the week of January 19. Please see the schedule below to find out when you will be able to get your vaccine.
January 19, 2021 – People who are 80 years of age and older
January 25, 2021 – People who are 75 years of age and older;
January 25, 2021 – People with a developmental or intellectual disability AND one of the following conditions:

  • Cerebral Palsy; Spina Bifida; Severe Congenital Heart Disease requiring hospitalization within the past year; Severe Type 1 Diabetes requiring hospitalization within the past year; Inherited metabolic disorders including Phenylketonuria; Severe Neurological Disorders including Epilepsy, Hydrocephaly, and Microcephaly; Severe Genetic Disorders including Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Muscular Dystrophy; Severe lung disease, including asthma requiring hospitalization within the past year, and Cystic Fibrosis; Sickle Cell Anemia; and Alpha and Beta Thalassemia; and Solid organ transplant patients.
  • Local boards of developmental disabilities will also be reaching out to individuals who fit in this category.
  • If you believe you fit in this category, but have not been contacted or if you do not get services through a board of developmental disabilities, you should contact the board in your county to coordinate your vaccination.
  • Vaccinations for people in this category will be given at local health departments or a participating children’s hospital.

February 1, 2021 – People who are 70 years of age and older
February 1, 2021 – Adults who work at K-12 schools that have in-person or hybrid learning models.
February 8, 2021 – People 65 years of age and older.
February 15, 2021 – People born with or who developed in early childhood one of the following severe conditions that puts them at a higher risk for adverse outcomes due to COVID-19:

  • Sickle Cell Anemia; Down syndrome; Cystic Fibrosis; Muscular Dystrophy; Cerebral Palsy; Spina Bifida; People born with severe heart defects, requiring regular specialized medical care; People with severe type 1 diabetes, who have been hospitalized for this in the past year; Phenylketonuria (PKU), Tay-Sachs, and other rare, inherited metabolic disorders; Epilepsy with continuing seizures; hydrocephaly; microcephaly, and other severe neurological disorders; Turner syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and other severe genetic disorders; People with severe asthma, who have been hospitalized for this in the past year; Alpha and Beta Thalassemia; Solid organ transplant candidates and recipients.
  • If you believe that you fit in this category, you may contact the provider of your choice. The vaccine provider will ask you to confirm that you are in fact eligible at this time.
  • Process to Confirm Eligibility: The State of Ohio is not requiring any additional documentation or proof of eligibility. However, vaccine providers may develop their own screening and monitoring procedures to evaluate eligibility. Patients will be asked to confirm that they have one of the qualifying conditions, but do not need to name the specific condition.

Please note that when a new group begins, the previous group may still not be finished receiving their vaccines. Previous groups can continue to get their vaccines even after new groups have started.

Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Where you get the vaccine will depend on where you work or live. This can be at your local hospital, CVS or Walgreens, or local health department:
• If you are an essential healthcare worker, the vaccine will be provided by your local hospital and health system.
• If you live or work at a long-term care facility or nursing home, the vaccine will be provided by a local CVS or Walgreens.
• If you live or work at another type of congregate care setting, an EMS first responder, or are staff member of a long-term care facility not already included, then the vaccine will be provided by your local health departments.

How do I find a vaccine provider if I am included in Phase 1B?

You should check with your local county health department to get updates and learn more about the vaccination program in your community. If you are able to get the vaccine because of your age, then you will receive your vaccine from their local health department, hospital, health center, or pharmacy. Please go to to search by county and zip code to find a vaccine provider in your area. Each provider will handle its own schedules and appointments.

If you are younger, but are able to get the vaccine because you have a severe congenital, developmental, and/or early-onset medical disorder, then your local board of developmental disabilities will work with children’s hospitals and some local health departments to schedule your vaccine.

I am not one of the people listed to receive the COVID-19 vaccine first. When can I get the vaccine?

As Ohio gets more doses of the vaccine, there will be more information available on who will get the vaccine next. Please continue to check DRO’s website or the Ohio Department of Health’s website for updates about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Should I wear a mask and social distance even after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is still a lot that we do not know about COVID-19 and the vaccines. To best protect you and others from getting or spreading the virus, public health officials say you should keep wearing a mask and stay 6 feet away from others, even after you are vaccinated. It may be hard for you to keep away from others if you live in a facility or rely on others for your care. Please remember to always wash your hands well and avoid sharing food, clothing, or other items with anyone who is sick.

Will Ohio require me to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, the state will not make you to get the vaccine.

Do I still need to get the vaccine if I already had COVID-19 and am feeling better?

The Ohio Department of Health suggests that people who have already had the virus and recovered may still benefit from receiving the vaccine.

Can I get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The vaccine is the medicine that protects you from virus. It does not give you the virus.

Will children get the COVID-19 vaccine?

You must be at least 16 years old to receive the Pfizer vaccine and at least 18 years old to receive the Moderna vaccine. Scientists are still studying the vaccine for children. It is not yet known if or when children will be receiving the vaccine. Please stay tuned for more information on this as it becomes available.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Updated Feb. 8, 2021
For additional information, visit

Source: Ohio Department of Health (ODH)
Updated Feb. 12, 2021
For additional information, visit

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