When Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that all adult Ohioans and even some teenagers will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine starting March 29, he opened the most challenging time in the state’s drive to vaccinate people.
The goal is to get the vaccine to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, without any waste.
“So that everyone can plan ahead we are also announcing today that beginning on March 29 every Ohioan will be eligible.
That’s all Ohioans 16 years of age and older,” DeWine said from Cleveland State University, the site of Ohio’s first mass vaccination site.
He said he decided to move the age range down dramatically after talking with county health agency heads from around the state who told him that their clinics currently have some openings. To DeWine, it meant supply was inching ahead of demand for the vaccine.
To deliver the vaccine to the newly eligible Ohioans at the end of the month, DeWine is counting on a string of mass vaccination sites, like the one in Cleveland, to handle thousands of doses a day.
Cleveland’s total delivery goal over the next two weeks is 210,000 doses.
Mass clinics open Thursday in Columbus and Cincinnati with similar thousands-of-doses-a-day in mind..
DeWine said to meet the growing demand for the vaccine will take an army of volunteers.
The Cleveland site is a good example of what it takes.
The facility must be very big, very familiar to the community, and within easy driving, walking, biking, bus access to minority groups as well as everyone else.
The Cleveland site downtown checks all of those boxes.
The other requirement is people power. Cleveland has a good track record of handling large events almost on the fly with only a few weeks to plan for them.
DeWine credited the community with stepping up with more than 300 volunteers.
“It has been remarkable to watch the Cleveland community and Cuyahoga community rally around this single purpose to vaccinate residents just as quickly as is humanly possible,” DeWine said.
The volunteers include people who would handle car and foot traffic approaching the vaccination site.
Volunteers in Cleveland are also part of a massive outreach program, going into neighborhoods to promote the vaccine and helping people make an appointment
on-line. Once the appointments are made, volunteers are even helping to drive some people without transportation to get their shots. For non-English speakers, there are volunteer interpreters to help guide them through the process.
A Dayton mass clinic is expected to be announced soon as well. It may be at the Dayton Convention Center, the scene of a current clinic, or it could move to another location.
Parking, traffic flow and facility size appear to be some of the key considerations for mass vaccination site selection.