LORAIN, Ohio — It's the third week of Ohio's coronavirus vaccine roll out and the process of getting a shot is still confusing and frustrating for many older Ohioans.
Lorain County Public Health is trying to keep up with the demand and come up with solutions for the confusion. Officials are also urging people to be patient and stay informed.
“I'm very thankful that I got the shot. But there's got to be a better way,” said Reed Hinman of Avon Lake.
Last Thursday, Hinman, 78, said he got the email he had been waiting weeks for. Lorain County Public Health invited him to a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lorain County Community College Saturday.
“My wife and I registered everywhere we could think of and that was the first response we got from anyone,” Hinman said.
The email told Hinman to arrive between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., but the lines at the clinic were so long he waited three hours before getting vaccinated.
"It was so cold. I mean, there were people with walkers, people in wheelchairs, people with canes,” Hinman said.
The county sends vaccine clinic email invites to people who register with the health department and asks them to come during certain time periods. The number of invites depends on how many vaccine doses the county gets which fluctuates between 1,000 to 2,000 weekly.
Lorain County Public Health commissioner Dave Covell says sometimes people don’t always follow that guidance.
“Sometimes people come three hours early, and so that causes the entire system to kind of back up,” Covell said.
He said people also shared Saturday's clinic invite on social media.
“Please don't share. We're sending that out to you as an invitation and when you share it, then other folks may show up that we don't have capacity for,” Covell said.
Officials are making changes for future clinics to make sure what happened to Hinman doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“We're going to have people staying in their cars and we'll give them a little card and then we'll ask them all to come in at a particular time,” Covell said.
Hinman is supposed to go back for his second dose in three weeks. He’s hoping the process is smoother and more comfortable.
“I’m thankful that I got the shot. Lorain County Health Department is the only one so far that's come through,” Hinman said.
Covell said the county is partnering with churches and senior centers to reach older people who don’t have internet access and sign them up for vaccinations.
Vaccine roll out for school employees
Lorain County’s 5,500 school employees will be vaccinated in the last week of February when the county receives its supply of vaccines allocated for that group.
School employees can choose to get vaccinated at one of the county’s pharmacy partners, but Covell said local school districts are encouraging employees to go to the mass clinic the county is organizing for them.
Covell said the county will continue to host both first and second dose vaccination for eligible age groups throughout the month.
“This coming week, we have about a thousand doses coming for the age groups and then we also have a certain amount of doses for developmental disability, which we have a special clinic going on for them on Thursday,” Covell said.
“We also have a second dose clinic going on tomorrow for those who we vaccinated four weeks ago. So this is a complicated system that we're doing and juggling a little bit at the health department. But as we move through, everyone will get that opportunity,” Covell said.
More information about Lorain County Public Health’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution can be found here.
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