Areas of Cleveland lag behind in race to vaccinate against COVID-19

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW)– At least 25 states have vaccinated 50 percent of all eligible people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Ohio is not among those states.

The Ohio Department of Health reported more than 5 million statewide have at least received one COVID-19 vaccination.

FOX 8 examined which zip codes in Cleveland and East Cleveland are falling behind and why in the push to vaccinate.

“What we found is when we looked at the rate of people by zip code who are working in low wage and hourly jobs, the folks in those zip codes were less likely to have gotten the vaccine,” said Kate Warren, a research fellow for the Center for Community Solutions.

Warren said in some zip codes, vaccination rates remain below 25 percent with fewer than one in four getting vaccinated.

“What I did find surprising is that when we measure this relationship between vaccination and work status, it was actually a stronger relationship throughout the county than the relationship between vaccination and race,” Warren said.

Data from the Ohio Department of Health shared with local agencies shows as of May 12 the following zip codes had less than 30 percent of vaccinations started for that area’s population:

  • 44104 – 3,486 started 17.59 percent
  • 44127 – 894 started 21.15 percent
  • 44105 – 8,232 started 22.40 percent
  • 44110 – 4,209 started 22.93 percent
  • 44112 – 5,374 started 24.80 percent
  • 44103 – 4,137 started 25.96 percent
  • 44108 – 5,451 stated 25.65 percent

The numbers surprised some in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood, part of zip code 44103.

“Everybody got they opinion on why they don’t want it but I don’t understand it,” said Cheryl Stewart. “I went and got mine and I’m glad I got it.”

“I expect it to be higher mostly everybody I know got their shots already,” said Richard Jolly, who is vaccinated.

In Cleveland’s Slavic Village, Community Steward Pam Shelley planned to spend the day putting fliers about vaccinations with a bus pass attached in mailboxes.

“We’re trying to figure out the same thing is why our numbers are so low when we have so many sites here,” Shelley said.

“I think a lot of it is, it went from everybody wanting the shot to now you’re able to get the shot, but they won’t take the shot. Now it’s a thing of you can’t ask, before it was you would walk up and say ‘Hey, I’m vaccinated’ now they’re like well you can’t ask me that.”

Reasons some do not want to get vaccinated are complex, but misinformation is one of many factors health care officials continue to battle.

“I think a lot of things that contribute to that are the myths that are distributed on social media and a lot of those things are taken as facts when they are not,” said Doris Williams, vice president of Nursing for Care Alliance.

Williams said the data is not a set of numbers, instead, people who want the vaccine, but may not have the means to get it. She said access remains a barrier for those who cannot take time off of work, have transportation challenges or cannot easily leave their home for health reasons.

“I think I am more determined to find ways to reach those individuals because it’s of paramount importance we find ways to meet the needs of all,” Williams said.

Commissioner of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health Terry Allan said his goal is to have 70 percent of those who want the shot in the county vaccinated by August.

“We’re at about 48 percent of the county getting their first dose. That’s close to 600,000 folks,” Allan said. “We’re at about almost 26 percent of folks in the city of East Cleveland have been vaccinated, but we know that we’re seeing smaller numbers come now.”

CCBH does not oversee vaccinations in the city of Cleveland. The Cleveland Department of Public Health did not respond to requests for comment.

Allan said they are working with community partners to help spread the word about where to go for the shot and how to get there.

“They’re helping us through some vaccine equity funds that we have to do door knocking to flier neighborhoods to work with the city that has done reverse 911 calls to the residents,” he said.

Anyone who needs additional assistance learning where to get vaccinated or having issues arranging transportation call dial 211 to reach the United Way for assistance.

Those who are vaccinated, like 79-year-old James Johnson, said he has no regrets and continues to encourage others to do the same.

“Whatever the reason they think they shouldn’t take it, take that shot. I’ve taken it and I feel great,” Johnson said.

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