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Mass Vaccination Clinics Open Throughout Ohio

Lorenzo Thomas gets vaccinated at mass vaccination clinic in Columbus.
Jo Ingles
/
Ohio Public Radio
Lorenzo Thomas gets vaccinated at mass vaccination clinic in Columbus.

There’s a rush for vaccines in many parts of Ohio, as those who are eligible race to websites of health clinics and pharmacies to book appointments for shots as soon as they become available.

A mass vaccination clinic at St. John Arena on Ohio State University’s campus opened last Thursday for four days. Amy McCormick of Kroger says this Columbus location is set up to be efficient.

“It’s a well-oiled machine. Our goal is to get as many people through as we can," McCormick says. "We are averaging about 300 vaccines an hour. Just over 3,000 a day and then again, over the course of four days, we’ll execute over 12,000 vaccines."

Ohio has 15 mass vaccination clinics in big cities as well as smaller towns, including Dayton, Athens, Youngstown, Steubenville, Ada, Zanesville, Marietta, Maumee, Lima, Wilmington and Akron. Soon four mobile clinics will soon be operating too.

Kroger is also operating a similar mass vaccination clinic at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati. There’s also a federal FEMA vaccination clinic at the Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland. Slots at both locations were filled almost as fast as they went online.

In addition to these mass vaccination sites, there are more than 1,200 pharmacies and medical clinics statewide where people can get their shots.

Lorezno Thomas from Columbus says he is thrilled to be getting his first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“I gotta get it. I just want to be safe for my family, for everybody," Thomas says.

Thomas is African American, a group that medical experts fear might be hesitant to get the vaccines. State health leaders have been reaching out to minority populations in recent weeks, with town halls and PSAs including prominent Black Ohioans.

Thomas says the people he knows don’t need any more convincing.

“Everybody is getting their shots. All of my neighborhood is getting their shots. They beat me to it,” he says.

Rachelle Hepperly of Waynesville, gets a COVID vaccine shot at St John Arena.
Credit Jo Ingles / Ohio Public Radio
/
Ohio Public Radio
Rachelle Hepperly of Waynesville, gets a COVID vaccine shot at St John Arena.

While some city dwellers say they are going to small towns to get their shots, some residents there are making the trip to the bigger vaccination clinics like this one. Rachelle Hepperly came from Waynesville to Columbus.

“I think that as soon as we are available to do it, we should do it," Hepperly says. "I work in the medical field, but I wanted everyone who needed it first to get it. I’m an administrator so I thought I’d kind of wait, but I wanted to make sure to get it because if it is what we can do to help everybody else, we should get it."

Some county-run clinics may demand shots go only to local residents. And some surrounding states may refuse to vaccinate Ohioans. But anyone who meets the age, medical or occupational restrictions put forward by the state is welcome to use Ohio’s state-sponsored mass vaccination clinics, if they can nab an appointment slot.

Christopher Rieder of West Palm Beach, Fla. has been staying with his older parents in Central Ohio, helping them through this pandemic. He didn’t want to wait until he returned home to get his vaccine.

“The sooner the better for me, as far as I am concerned, because herd immunity is going to be really hard in this country, you know 80-75%, there are so many people saying, ‘I don’t need it. I don’t want it,’ so the more of us that get the shot, the sooner we will get to a place where we can think of it as the flu, where we can just think, ‘I’m O.K. I’ve got it covered,'" Rieder says.

Christopher Rieder, of Florida, gets his shot at St John Arena.
Credit Jo Ingles / Ohio Public Radio
/
Ohio Public Radio
Christopher Rieder, of Florida, gets his shot at St John Arena.

Ohio's supply of vaccines has been ramping up in recent weeks, and as that has happened, eligibility has been expanded. Anyone 40 years or older, or who has one of a long list of medical conditions or works in qualifying occupations, can get the shot now.

On March 29, anyone 16 and over will be able to get vaccines, although minors will be restricted to getting doses of Pfizer.

Almost 24% of Ohio’s total population have started the process of getting COVID vaccines. More than 13% of all Ohioans are fully immunized.

The state set up the website gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov to provide information about locations where shots are available and how to schedule them.

What questions do you still have about COVID-19 and Ohio's response? Ask below and WOSU may answer as part of our series A Year Of COVID.

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