“The end is in sight. We’re in the homestretch, we really are.
We can see the finish line,” said Toledo Mayor Wade
Kapszukiewicz during a Dec. 22, 2020 virtual press
conference broadcast on Facebook Live. “But to get there, which
is back to our normal lives, we need to promote what we know is
going to get us there—and that is the vaccine.”
The Toledo-Lucas County
is following Ohio’s phased plan for administering the initial
shipments of the vaccine—first focusing on health care workers,
EMS responders, and people who are at the greatest risk for
severe illness. Tough choices are being made as to who goes in
what order, placing police officers, teachers, and students
further down the list.
The COVD-19 vaccine will be administered over time to those who
want it. Local leaders know the roll-out won’t be enough. A
public education campaign will be necessary to help build
confidence within the general public to encourage a majority to
step forward, willing to receive it voluntarily. Leaders will
tap into Toledo’s social networks in a campaign dubbed
“Project V, for Victory.”
“We know that there are a lot of questions about the vaccine.
There could be some doubts that people have in their minds about
its effectiveness, about potential drawbacks,” admitted
Kapszukiewicz. “There is a healthy cynicism. Americans are
natural questioners, questioning authority—that’s how we were
The public education effort is being directly aimed at the
inherent mistrust that has built up over time toward both the
medical system and government in general within the black and
Leaders acknowledge that
many in the minority community are more likely to listen to
those they do trust—clergy, neighbors, and friends.
Those all are being enlisted to help spread factual, scientific
information to all audiences possible.
president/CEO of the Neighborhood Health Association, for example, pointed out that Latinos
and African Americans are contracting COVID-19 and dying at much
higher rates than anyone else—both locally and nationally. That
makes the vaccine critical within minority communities.
“Let the science lead you. Listen to the education that we will
be putting out there for you,” she implored. “Our reach into
this community will be intentionally broad and intentionally
The two vaccines that have
been approved and recommended to prevent COVID19 require two
injections, with several weeks between them, before they begin
to offer the best protection. The vaccine received in late
December are the first dose for those in identified critical
groups. A second dose will be delivered and administered weeks
Meantime, the health dept.’s emergency order closing school
buildings ended Jan. 11, 2021 so many of the school districts
resumed or continued a hybrid learning model where students are
in class part of the week and learning remotely the other days.
In the Toledo area, those districts include Washington Local,
Anthony Wayne, Oregon, Springfield, Rossford, and Sylvania.
Toledo Public Schools,
however, started the second semester with remote learning and an
intent to re-evaluate the situation in mid-February. Maumee
and Ottawa Hills school districts returned to in-person
learning, as did Toledo’s Catholic schools.
Teachers and other Ohio school personnel are in line to receive
the COVID-19 vaccine starting Feb. 1, 2021. School
superintendents are being asked to outline their district’s
plants to go back to full, in-person or hybrid learning by March
1. To accomplish that goal, superintendents also are being asked
by public health officials to predict how many school staff they
believe will choose to take the vaccine, which will be
administered by a community partner of their choosing.
The next phase of
vaccinations, known as 1B in Ohio, will begin with people
ages 80 and older.
That age will be dropped by five years on a weekly basis, to the
point where those Ohioans ages 65 and older will be eligible for
a COVID-19 vaccine the week of Jan. 25.
Vaccines for those older Ohioans will be administered by
doctors, local health departments, hospitals,
federally-qualified health centers such as the Neighborhood
in-home health service providers, and some retail pharmacies.
The state health department has approximately 1,700 providers
registered to distribute vaccines.
The week of Jan. 25
will also include vaccines for Ohioans with severe congenital,
developmental, or early onset medical disorders. Additional
details about distribution for this group are yet to be
announced. Plans are quietly forming behind-the-scenes for a
Phase 2 distribution, mainly involving others who work with
the public, including social workers and others not considered
medical personnel or first responders.
But the success of those planned vaccine roll-outs is dependent
upon the public education efforts such as Project V,
which must convince a skeptical citizenry in the wake of
divisive politics, mass protests, and the general unrest being
caused by months of COVID-related isolation.
“We’re going to try to get back to normal, which I believe we
can do by summer,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz boldly predicted. “When I
say normal, I mean no masks, no social distancing. You want to
go to the Mud Hens, go to a concert—so do I. Let’s do it. We
have to get this vaccine to as many people as possible if that’s
going to happen.”