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'What the vaccine means to me,' families plan to reunite as more become eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

DAVID COOL FAMILY PIC 6.JPG
Posted at 10:49 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 23:11:43-04

CLEVELAND — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that on March 29, vaccine eligibility will be open to all Ohioans ages 16 and older.

On March 19, Phase 1E will begin open eligibility for anyone with one of the five following health conditions: cancer, kidney disease, COPD, heart disease, and obesity.

Phase 2C will also begin Friday, which will open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Ohioans 40 years and older.

As more people become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Ohioans are seeing the light at the end of a long, tumultuous tunnel.

“Just to go see my mom. I haven’t seen my mom,” one newly vaccinated woman said Tuesday. “We haven’t done holidays. We have done nothing. We didn’t do any holidays. It was so hard on my mom. Christmas Day I just dropped off presents and left.”

A shot in the arm is serving as a double dose of hope for Ohioans after a year of social sacrifices.

A newly vaccinated couple received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday and said they are looking forward to attending their son’s wedding in May and becoming first-time grandparents.

“We want to be able to hold the baby, so we had to get the shot so we could hold the baby,” the woman said.

David Cool has four grandchildren of his own, one of whom will be eligible for the vaccine come March 29, and he’s counting down the days until a post-COVID cookout.

“We're going to probably have a cookout in our backyard. We don't have a huge backyard,” Cool said. “We've got really nice big deck and a pretty big grill.”

Barbecue is also on the brain of Brian Johnson who can’t wait to take his father out to the ballgame.

“I’m looking forward to taking my father to an Indians game,” Johnson said. “We meet at the surface lots of Public Square. We go to Mabel’s to get barbecue and then we walk to the ballgame.”

Andrea Lyons’ extended family lives just outside New York City, which at one time was the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.

“Everything was like ground zero there so I have not seen my family in over a year,” Lyons said.

She hopes to see them soon after being fully inoculated.

“We kept our circle tight. We get on Zoom and I text friends,” Lyons said. “I’ve done some things outdoors that have been socially distanced, but it’s been hard.”

However, some people receiving vaccines Tuesday said they’re not ready just yet to return to normalcy.

“I don’t see big changes at least for me and my behavior,” Jordan Davis said. “I think it’s important that we still wear our masks and that we respect people who haven’t gotten the vaccine yet.”

Adriana Morrill recently turned 21 but was eligible to receive her vaccine at the Wolstein Center, which she said will finally allow her to see loved ones who are at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

“I know we’re not really the ones that are suffering too bad from the symptoms and stuff like that but we’re definitely a big age group that’s spreading it,” Morrill said.

In an arduous year of separation, lines at the Wolstein Center are serving as a symbol of unity and healing.