I-TEAM: Thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses sitting unused in Cleveland

I-Team

CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in Cleveland sitting on a shelf.

City hall announced in late December it had received 4,000 doses. But, multiple sources tell the I-Team, in the first two weeks, the city had given out only about 600 shots.

Tuesday, we watched as a few more people walked into a building downtown to get the vaccine.

But, our findings led Councilman Brian Kazy to say, “It doesn’t seem to be a priority for those who are supposed to be dishing it out.”

The state has said, for now, only health care workers and first-responders are eligible for the vaccine. Still, how are thousands of doses going unused in Cleveland at a time of a world health crisis?

Kazy added, “It says that there’s no sense of urgency. These vaccines are a matter of life and death to some people.”

This week, we found Summit County has given out half of its vaccines. Cuyahoga County, a little less than half. Columbus, just under 40%. And Cleveland, about 15%.

The mayor’s office has refused to answer questions about the vaccine distribution.

When we asked for comment about the low number of shots given so far, a spokesperson responded by e-mail. She wrote, “…we are not aware of this number and any and all updates regarding the vaccine will be included in our Daily updates.” The daily update is a nightly news release from the city outlining the latest numbers of coronavirus cases.

For days, we’ve also sent questions to state officials. We’ve asked if anyone is keeping track of what’s going on with the vaccine in Cleveland and other places?

The Ohio Health Department says vaccine providers have agreed to file reports with the state. So, we’ve also asked for those reports. One of the people we met getting the shot on Tuesday was Judi Amicone.

“I am a health care worker,” she said. “And, like I said, it’s one step closer to being free.”

And, Chico Lewis told us, “You know, it’s like a big relief.”

You should know, hundreds of firefighters in Cleveland have told the city they do not want the shot for various reasons. Nonetheless, Councilman Kazy wants an explanation from the city administration about the slow rollout.

Councilman Mike Polensek has also demanded an explanation from the Mayor’s Office.

Kazy added, “This plan should have been in place from Day One. It’s not like we didn’t know the vaccine was coming.”

As soon as we get records from the state or the council members get updates from the administration, we’ll update this story.

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