MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio — Robert Cox is a 76-year-old man on a mission.
“I’m looking after my brothers and my sister and I want to ensure that they get a shot,” Cox said. “About a month ago, I heard that Summit County was preparing to register or enroll people for the vaccine program.”
However, he said all efforts to sign his siblings up for a shot in the arm have felt more like a shot in the dark in his Medina County hometown.
“You press COVID-19 and it provides you a list of 20, 30 and 40 mile radius of your house,” Cox said.
Cox said no matter how far he searched, he was unable to find an open vaccination appointment in Medina County.
“They had no idea what amount of vaccine they would get and they had no idea what the priority would be,” Cox said.
He said the vaccine rollout process has been less than satisfactory for seniors trying to navigate automated phone systems and online portals.
“Not one time in dozens of calls did I ever receive an opportunity to make an appointment, whether I was 80 or 70 or 50 or whatever,” Cox said. “She said that at some point in time, I would be able to get information pertaining to me online at a link and that link was provided on their website.”
Summit County Public Health Director Donna Skoda said there are multiple reasons for the county-by-county confusion, led primarily by a lack of supply.
“Probably the biggest determining factor is how much vaccine they get. If you have 100 doses and you're a smaller county, you can do that in two hours. You can set up appointments and bring people in,” Skoda said. “For our 1B, we only received the first week 300 doses. We just have to get more of it. When the other ones come to the market I really think we'll have more.”
Cox said he did eventually receive his first dose of the vaccine.
“I got mine as a veteran and I got it as a result of a health condition,” Cox said.
However, he told News 5 his 80-year-old sister is still waiting on pins and needles.
“The last I talked to her, she said that now she was trying through Kroger,” Cox said.
The caregiver of his siblings is calling for more compassion throughout the process.
“Don't make it more difficult than it needs to be and be responsive,” Cox said. “If you're a senior and the world is a little different to you, you don't function as well, perhaps you ought to have a way to do it that you can trust and that you can rely on.”
He said there is also a major need for consistency.
“There are lives at stake here and it has to be a more orderly process,” Cox said. “I don't want to go in front of anybody, you know? I just want it to be like the governor says it should be. That's it.”