‘Incredibly scarce’ COVID-19 vaccine limits who can get shots, as eligibility expands

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) – This week marks the start of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for seniors above the age of 70 and some school staff members across the state but many on the front line of care said limited vaccine availability is creating a slowdown in vaccinations.

“This week, more than half of the vaccines that the state was allocating went to teachers,” said Dr. Robyn Strosaker, University Hospitals Chief Operating Officer.

Both seniors and school staff are among the vulnerable for virus infections, but this latest challenge has some wondering if the state can successfully vaccinate both groups at the same time. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said last week “school personnel … will be in front of 11 or so million of their fellow Ohioans.”

“It slows us down,” said Dr. Strosaker. “Our allocation this week is significantly less than it had been in the last two weeks.”

She said they received less than 500 doses for the week despite their ability to inoculate hundreds more per day.

“We vaccinated over 8,000 patients in the first 11 days so we can certainly go very fast,” Dr. Strosaker said. “It’s a supply issue right now, unfortunately.”

Ohio Department of Health Press Secretary Melanie Amato said vaccine allocation can change week to week. 

“The vaccine is incredibly scarce, and we simply don’t have enough to vaccinate every person eligible in that week,” said Amato. “As more people become eligible to receive the vaccine, less of it will be available to others until production from the federal government can increase.”

She said Ohio is receiving roughly 100,000 vaccines each week. This process will remain as they work to get children back in school and vaccinate seniors who qualify.

Summit County Public Health said of their 70-and-above population, 26,000 people registered for the vaccine, but they only received 680 doses for the week.

“Unfortunately, for those older adults, we did not receive enough vaccine to vaccinate all those who would like to be vaccinated,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Summit County Public Health did receive enough doses for all its school personnel assigned for vaccinations this week.

The Cleveland Clinic received 2,350 doses for the week, a drop from 5,700 one week prior. A spokesperson said they are committed to vaccinating as many patients possible based on supply received.

A MetroHealth spokesperson said they would learn more Tuesday about its allocation for the week.

“It is a possibility that this is the way the allocation could be over the next few weeks,” said Dr. Strosaker. “We’ve got staff prepared we’re ready,  if we were to get more vaccine we would certainly vaccinate as many people as we can as quickly as we can.”

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