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Where Can People Get The COVID-19 Vaccine In Northeast Ohio?

What are your questions about the coronavirus vaccine?

ideastream's health team is answering as many questions as possible, with help from local experts in a range of fields. You can send us your questions with our online form, through our social media group, or call us at 216-916-6476. We'll keep the answers coming on our website and on the air.

Many listeners have asked how and where they can get the COVID-19 vaccine when they become eligible. 

Clark in Lyndhurst asked, “How will we get a vaccine? Will cities, pharmacies or hospital systems organize distribution? Will we drive up and get the shot or will we need an appointment?” 

While thus far vaccines have been reserved for priority groups such as front line health care workers and first responders, more people in the general public in Ohio will have access to the vaccine in the next two weeksOhio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a Jan. 7 press conference

The next group of vaccinations, phase 1B, will begin Jan. 19, DeWine said. Starting that week, individuals over the age of 80 will be eligible for the vaccine, followed by people over 75 the next week, he said. 

People with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders will be able to get the vaccine starting Jan. 25, he said. 

Teachers and school staff are included in the 1B group as well, and can start getting vaccinated Feb. 1, as long as their district has committed to return to in-person or hybrid instruction by March, DeWine said. 

But Cuyahoga County may not be ready to start phase 1B when the rest of the state does, said Kevin Brennan, public information officer at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. 

“The large urban areas - presumably us, Cincinnati and Columbus - we’re probably going to lag behind a little bit, just because of the volume of people we have to get through in 1A,” he said. 

Chris Barker, the emergency preparedness supervisor at Summit County Public Health, also anticipates a slight delay in starting phase 1B. 

“It depends on what turnout is going to be expected,” Barker said. 

County health departments are waiting on state officials to release more details about how to conduct this next phase of vaccinations, Brennan in Cuyahoga County said. 

“The state still hasn’t given us concrete details on how they want that done, so we’re trying to work in concert with the state to make sure we administer in somewhat of a consistent manner,” Brennan said. 

Gov. DeWine wants local emergency management agencies to publicize vaccine providers and locations available in their jurisdiction by next Thursday, he said. Also on Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health will unveil a new dashboard on its website where people can see which providers are distributing vaccines in their counties.  

Brennan expects Ohioans will get their shots at drive-up clinics at community sites such as churches, recreation centers, warehouses, and schools, he said. 

Throughout January, Cuyahoga’s board of health is utilizing a large building at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Middleburg Heights for phase 1A vaccinations. There are eight different lanes where individuals drive up, roll down their car window, and get the shot, Brennan said. 

The fairgrounds will likely be a location where the general public will eventually get the vaccine, Brennan said. 

“Conceptually, we would like to stay here, because it’s convenient, it’s a good set up, it’s efficient … logistically, it works for us,” he said. “We would probably advocate for this to be one of the options.” 

Barker in Summit County did not share specific locations where vaccines are currently being administered in order to keep ineligible people from showing up at clinics, he said. But, in future vaccination phases, people can expect to get vaccinated in large indoor sites, such as schools, he said. 

“We’re mostly going to be working out of schools, because that’s a common location known to many individuals in the community,” Barker said. 

To get the vaccine, individuals in both Cuyahoga and Summit counties will first have to register for an appointment time online. Those not in the current priority groups cannot yet register, health officials said. 

Like other local health departments in the state, Cuyahoga and Summit are administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, as they do not have the ultra-cold freezers needed to store the doses from Pfizer. 

Brennan estimates Cuyahoga’s health board will have vaccinated 4,000 total people by the end of this week, while Summit County Public Health has vaccinated about 2,200, Barker said. 

The health departments receive new shipments of Moderna vaccines each week, but the doses are still a small supply, officials said, which is another reason they may not be able to start phase 1B vaccinations on time. 

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