Drive-thru COVID vaccination site in Summit County now open to Ohioans

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TALLMADGE, Ohio — The drive-thru mass coronavirus vaccination site at the Summit County Fairgrounds began providing shots to Ohioans on Saturday.

“We were refreshing, refreshing, refreshing,” said Kristen Olesky.

With a little persistence, Olesky managed to snag one of 1,500 appointments, gone in an hour, for the first day of Summit County’s Mass Vaccination Clinic. 

“We got in pretty quickly,” she said. “We were able to get my mom in too which is really great.”

The state-sponsored site got off to a bumpy start Saturday said Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda. 

“We had a little bit of issue in the morning with the computers. It was pretty cold and so things weren’t connecting, and the equipment wasn’t coming quite up,” explained Skoda.

However, she says the clinic quickly found its stride. 

“We’ve been right on time and keeping the appointments on time and it’s been flying along,” Skoda said.

Currently administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson, approved for those 18 and up, the clinic is drive-thru only and free public transportation is being provided by the county to shuttle people to the site. 

“What we just do is jump on that bus and vaccinate you on the bus,” she explained.

You then wait in whatever vehicle you came in for 15 minutes to monitor for any adverse reaction.

“Half the folks you see here are volunteers and there’s been a good support for this, and it really is a community effort,” said Skoda.

Olesky says she found all of the clinic’s workers to be helpful and kind.

“They explained everything in great detail, which really kinda had made me feel a little more at ease — just the leeriness of getting any time of vaccine can be a little overwhelming,” she said.

The clinic plans to run for a minimum of 8 weeks. 

Despite a production issue earlier this week with Johnson & Johnson doses Skoda doesn’t believe that will have much of an impact on this clinic though if they have to change the type of vaccine, they’re ready to do so. 

“We’re still slated to get our 5,000-dose allotment each week. It may not allow for us to get extra,” she said.

The department is committed to staying the course.  The clinic will be open again on Wednesday and is ready to vaccinate 2500 people. Skoda says there may be more vaccination bays then to help with traffic flow. 

She says they hope to have appointments for clinics this Thursday and Saturday available online starting Monday.

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