Health officials deal with COVID-19 vaccine signup concerns as shots open up to more groups

Coronavirus

AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — Public health officials are addressing the concerns of those in the Phase 1B population who still haven’t been able to get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine as eligibility expands on Thursday.

“I think the other groups that have come before these new groups feel as though they might get squeezed out of the opportunity to get a vaccine,” said Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda.

That will include those with Type 1 diabetes, pregnant women and those 60 and older. 

“We had stayed on 65 for almost a month,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine during a Monday news briefing.

Skoda said they have a waitlist of about 120,000 people at last check. She said she’s hopeful that from the date of registration, it should take one to two weeks to get the shot.

“Many of our emails are still going to those groups, 65, 70, 75 and 80 and older. So we’re still trying to hit hard those older, advanced-age groups and then move into the 60 and above.”

Skoda said they may extend their clinics from six to seven days a week to accommodate the new groups, which also include childcare workers, law enforcement and funeral home employees.

“We’re happy that they’re including those groups of persons, those groups of occupations because they are at risk and it will be good to get them vaccinated.”

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health said it is prepared to increase its response as vaccine supplies increase and is discussing how to accommodate the new groups this week.

The Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging represents five counties in Northeast Ohio: Cuyahoga, Lorain, Geauga, Lake and Medina. It anticipates a spike in calls from this announcement.

“We’re kind of used to the rhythm of the events now,” said Mary Lipovan, director of public health advocacy.

They are reassuring residents who reach out and helping them register as the governor said now’s the time to sign up.

“The great news about what’s happening is there’s more vaccine available,” Lipovan said.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine will help open up new vaccination sites as the state ships doses to more than 200 independent pharmacies, many of which didn’t have vaccines before.

“It’s been a process and every day, we’re talking to individuals more and more where appointments are opening up,” Skoda said.

Lipovan encourages people to keep trying and reach out if they need help.

“It’s just a matter of hang in there, you’re not excluded from the group. It’s just a matter of we still need to be patient and take the time to make an appointment.”

If you need help you can call the Summit County Public Health call center at 330-926-5795 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also call the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging at 844-340-3003. United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 211 number can also help with questions on vaccination.

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