CLEVELAND — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine held a news conference Friday afternoon at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland and announced plans to convert the Cleveland State sports facility into a mass vaccination center this month, and the opening of more than a dozen additional mass vaccination sites across the state.
You can watch DeWine's announcement in the player below:
According to DeWine's office, the Wolstein Center will be converted to a mass vaccination clinic starting on St. Patrick's Day. The move will give the state the ability to administer 6,000 COVID-19 vaccines a day.
The center is a collaboration between state health officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Federal government will provide the additional vaccines that will be distributed.
Why the Wolstein Center?
According to the White House, "the Wolstein Center was identified using a range of criteria, most central to those is the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. This tool was created to help emergency response planners and public health officials identify and map communities that will most likely need support before, during, and after a hazardous event. The index takes into consideration critical data points, including socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status, languages, housing type and transportation."
The White House further states that the Wolstein Center "occupies a central and accessible, yet medically underserved, area in Cleveland."
There are 25,000 residents that live within one mile from the site. Of those residents, 66% are minorities, 6.36% are elderly, and almost 45% of households live in poverty, the White House said.
"These sites sit in neighborhoods, hit hard by the pandemic and are well-known in the community," Andy Slavitt, White House Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response, said.
The Atlanta Falcons Stadium in Georgia will serve as the other newly announced FEMA vaccination site.
Doses distributed at the clinic will be in addition to the vaccine allotment the state already receives.
“Now that the supply of vaccine is significantly increasing, this is the perfect time for a large-scale clinic in Ohio to bolster our work to get shots in arms quickly, efficiently, and equitably. We welcome FEMA to Ohio and are grateful for their support and the support of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and Cleveland State University as we continue down the road to recovery,” said DeWine.
He added, “Ohio has held several successful mass vaccination clinics, but this long-term clinic will reach the most people yet – particularly those in Ohio’s most vulnerable populations and those who face barriers in accessing health care. In addition to this new northeast Ohio site, we remain committed to ensuring that, no matter where you live, a vaccine provider is located nearby, and we’re strengthening that commitment by also launching several new state-sponsored mass vaccination sites in other areas of the state.”
The clinic will be open seven days a week, but hours haven't been decided. Ohioans who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine will be allowed to receive their vaccinations there.
"Eight weeks from March 17th, it's very possible that by the time we get into this deeply that anybody could get the vaccine here," DeWine added. "This is going to be a community effort. It’s going to take everyone in the community. We have to keep our eye on the ball."
For the first three weeks, initial dozes of the Pfizer vaccine will be distributed. Anyone who receives the first dose during that time period will be guaranteed a second dose several weeks later, DeWine's office said.
“This is an exciting development for the people of our region. It has been a long, hard road and we aren’t over it yet,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. “We still need to follow all the protocols we know work while we wait for more people to get vaccinated, but I am pleased to say that with this new mass vaccination site, the light at the end of the tunnel just got a lot brighter.”
While the facility is within walking distance of thousands of residents, some may have transportation issues. To ease those issues, there will be bus passes available through RTA and subsidized rideshare services to individuals who call 211. Rides will also be available through neighborhood church groups and the Senior Transportation Center.
More information will be released in the coming days on how to book an appointment at the facility.
Other mass vaccination sites
DeWine announced an additional 15 sites that will be spread across Ohio and used to vaccinate residents by the thousands.
The sites are state-sponsored and will be located in Lima, Maumee, Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Youngstown, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Marietta, Wilmington, and Zanesville. Additionally, four mobile vaccination clinics will travel across the state.
Each of the sites will distribute between 300 to 3,000 doses of vaccine a day depending on each location, according to DeWine. Just like the Cleveland site, appointment bookings aren't available yet, but will be announced in the coming days. These locations will also offer weekday and weekend appointments.
“Mass vaccination clinics have always been part of our plan, but adequate supply is necessary for larger sites, so it was crucial that we first established local provider sites in all 88 counties to ensure that every citizen in every community has a provider nearby,” said DeWine.
He added, "Now that we have more than 1,250 local vaccine providers and a significant increase in vaccine supply expected at the end of March, this is the right time to finalize and prepare to launch these large-scale regional clinics."
A list of the specific mass vaccination sites is below:
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