I-TEAM: Why are police escorting COVID-19 vaccine transports around Cleveland?

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has captured video showing the COVID-19 vaccine moving around Cleveland under police escort.

So, we investigated.

SkyFOX HD recorded video of a City of Cleveland van driving slowly across town with a police car behind it. The van carried the precious, fragile and life-saving COVID-19 vaccine.

An I-Team camera saw vials of the vaccine taken from a freezer loaded into the van. Then, we watched that vaccine get driven carefully to a site where the city health department planned to give shots.

We learned the city had been regularly transporting the vaccine under police guard. So, we took a closer look. Sources involved in the rollout of the vaccine in Cleveland say it’s being transported this way for security.

Plus, health agencies have to follow strict guidelines for handling the vaccine so that it is effective when it gets to your arm.

City Hall had no comment for this story. We’re told Mayor Frank Jackson will hold a news conference Tuesday about vaccinations in Cleveland.

Again, the vaccine is kept frozen, but it has to be thawed before you get it. And, heath agencies can’t get reckless. The Ohio Department of Health says, once the vaccine is thawed, it must be “protected as much as possible from drops, shocks and vibration.”

Meantime, the Summit County Health Department talked to us about the vaccine.

Chris Barker spoke for the Department, saying, “When we store them (the vials)  in a refrigerator, we lay them flat. We don’t store them at an angle.”

He told us there’s no room for error handling the vaccine. In fact, once it’s opened, it has to be used within hours.

“Any vaccine, we have to maintain the quality control requirements as indicated by the manufacturer. We’re going to pay very close attention,” Barker said.

The Summit County Health Department didn’t want to discuss transport of the vaccine. The Cuyahoga County Health Department says it does not use a police escort for transport.

Back in Cleveland, the I-team is not revealing where the vaccine is stored since we recognize the city’s security concerns.

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