Mega vaccination sites could be coming to Ohio

OHIO — Looking for the coronavirus vaccine? By spring or summer you could be headed to a sports stadium to get in line with thousands of other people.

Ohio may be on track to join other states in creating mega vaccination sites that can handle people in huge numbers. Already New York City opened a site at Yankee Stadium and packed in people to line up for the vaccine.  

Logistics expert Prof. Christopher Tang of the UCLA Anderson School of Management said the mass distribution sites for the vaccine can be effective, but pose many problems.

“Right now the biggest challenge is getting the supply of the vaccine,” Tang said.

The supply situation may improve with time, according to Gov. Mike DeWine, who said recently shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will increase at the end of the month. Tang said the other challenges include putting together sufficient numbers of nurses and doctors necessary to handle large crowds for a mass vaccination event.

He added, to prepare for a mega site event, everything from thousands of doses of the vaccine to the on-site computer system for tracking  administration of the shots will be needed. The same system will be needed to arrange appointments for second doses.

Also coming soon, a central computer system to allow people to sign up for the vaccine by submitting their address. The system will find the nearest vaccination clinic that has an opening.

“By Valentine’s Day or there about is when we hope to start this process,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a recent briefing. Details on the new registration system are expected later this week.

The National Football League has volunteered all 30 of its stadiums around the country for large-scale vaccination sites, including the stadiums in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

DeWine has briefly discussed the possibility of large-scale events but has not mentioned a potential timetable for them. Presumably it would come in the Spring or Summer when the weather improves and people would be able to wait in line outside.

As Ohio ponders plans for a mega vaccination site, Prof. Tang has some advice for people.

“if you are over 65, get the vaccine. If you are under 65, be patient,” Tang said. Tang gives DeWine high marks for his handling of the coronavirus and vaccine distribution so far.

This week DeWine dropped the eligibility age limit to 65 years old and above. The Governor said he will hold it there for several weeks until the vaccine supply improves.