CLEVELAND — On the last day of 2021, the Neighborhood Family Practice on Cleveland’s west side was bustling with patients young and old.
The federally-qualified health center wasn't busy conducting COVID-19 testing, but, rather they were vaccinating against the virus. It was scheduled to be closed today to observe New Year's Eve. But understanding how hard it can be for people to make vaccine appointments, workers shifted plans.
"We’re ending the year how we started, with coming in on our day off to vaccinate the community," said Jean Polster, the president and CEO of Neighborhood Family Practice. "We know that people can’t get to big hospital sites. A lot of our patients have language barriers, they don’t have cars. We have been on the front lines during this pandemic trying to get to folks that just can’t get the vaccines."
Since January, Polster said, health staff at NFP have vaccinated more than 16,000 people across their seven locations and other community sites. But, she said, the demand is still strong.
“We opened up 500 appointments a week ago and filled them," Polster said.
Polster said this mass vaccination clinic in this part of Cleveland — zip code 44102 — is particularly important as it's been hit hard by the virus.
“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of spread in this particular zip code," she said.
According to state’s COVID dashboard, there have been 1,142 reported cases of the virus in the last two weeks in this zip code, the third-highest out of all zip codes across the state.
With today’s turnout, Polster said she has hope for a brighter new year.
"My hope is that people will follow public health guidance and that we can really tamp down this virus, because this virus keeps outwitting us.”
NFP has seven locations across Cleveland. Click here to learn more and to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.