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Free transportation being offered to large groups heading to Wolstein Center for vaccinations

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Posted at 5:04 PM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 18:27:21-04

CLEVELAND — In yet another effort to reduce any possible barrier to getting more people vaccinated, Cuyahoga County and the Greater Cleveland RTA have collaborated to offer free transportation for groups of 20 or more people wanting to get vaccinated at the Wolstein Center. The new initiative comes as the number of newly vaccinated Ohioans plateaued this week.

On Thursday, the mass vaccination clinic at the Wolstein Center unveiled another convenient option for people who have not yet received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Groups of 20 or more people can arrange free bus transportation to the clinic downtown simply by calling 216-615-6313. The free transportation service is being offered to churches, community organizations, employers and even a large group of friends, said Brigadier General Rebecca O'Connor of the Ohio Air National Guard.

"We understand that there might be some hesitancy. Anything we can do to make it easier for community members, we'll do it," O'Connor said. "Any way we can do some outreach and make it easier for the community members to get here, the better it's going to be. The more shots we can get, the sooner we get back to normal."

After totaling more than 100,000 new vaccinations in a single day back in early April, the number of newly vaccinated Ohioans has dropped precipitously to just under 15,000 on Thursday. As of Friday afternoon, just over 40% of Ohioans statewide have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

In Cuyahoga County, 45% of residents have started the vaccination process. Nearby Lake County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state at over 46%.

In his visit to the clinic earlier this week, Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledged the recent plateau. However, he remains optimistic that more people will get vaccinated. The state's current approach of providing vaccines to people at every possible turn, including mass clinics, drugstores and private physicians, aims to remove any possible barrier.

"The next few weeks, we're not going to get as fast of a rate as we've been getting it," DeWine said. "But that's life. Our job is to make it available to people. I'm optimistic."

The ease and efficiency of getting vaccinated at the Wolstein Center has received rave reviews since the clinic launched last month.

"I think my favorite quote [on Reddit] was 'it was a precision military operation with the customer service of Disney World.' It's the innovation of our soldiers and airmen to not only serve the community but to serve the community with the best of their ability," O'Connor said.