CoronavirusVaccinating Ohio


You're young, healthy and not an essential worker. How long will you have to wait to get the vaccine?

Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 17:30:58-05

CLEVELAND — If you're young, healthy, and not considered an essential worker, Northeast Ohio medical experts said it could be months or even up to a year before you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

"We’re still looking at about 2021 going into 2022. So we’re quite a bit a ways away," said Dr. Shanina Knighton, a nurse scientist and infection preventionist who teaches at Case Western Reserve University.

Despite promising news about vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax, there is currently only a small supply available.

"We are talking about a large population, millions and millions of people that have to not only get dose one of some vaccines, but also have to get a second dose," Knighton said.

Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan was slightly more optimistic.

"I think come fall it is our hope that we will really start to break into that general population," Allan said.

So what will 2021 look like for Americans who expect to be last in line?


"I think, in the spring, in the near term, we still need to be protective," Allan said.

He said the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 will remain high.

"I think there is sometimes a false sense of security that just because we have vaccines available that COVID-19 is just automatically going to go away," Knighton said.

"While it is mighty and it will do a lot, we do know that the strains are changing," Knighton said. She said it is unclear how well the vaccine will protect against emerging variants of the virus.

Knighton said it is critical to continue infection prevention practices, including social distancing, wearing a mask, and avoiding crowds.

"It’s not the time to abandon them. We’ve made it this far let’s continue on through the spring here," Allan agreed.


Summer is when life will begin to get back to normal.

"We expect and anticipate that we will see a reduction of cases in the summer," said Allan. He said warmer temperatures and increasing numbers of individuals who have been vaccinated or exposed to the coronavirus will cause the expected decline in case numbers.

It will be safer to be social, especially outdoors. However, they said it is critical to remain vigilant about washing your hands, wiping down surfaces and wearing your mask when needed.

"The question is really what’s normal?" said Knighton. "Infection prevention practices, or what I know in terms of infection prevention practices, these are things we should be doing anyway."

Allan said is too soon to say whether attending large gatherings, like concerts or weddings, will be a good idea this year.

"I think we have to wait and see what the lay of the land is come summer," Allan said.


By fall, vaccinations should be available to most Americans.

"I think come fall it is our hope that we will really start to break into that general population," Allan said.

Fall also means the return of allergy, cold, and flu season. Again, Knighton said it will be important to continue infection prevention practices even as the risk of catching the coronavirus declines.

"There are a lot of unknowns, but the one thing I know for sure is that prevention does work," she said. "As long as we’re taking those measures, then we should be okay."

Allan hopes when it is your turn in line, no matter how healthy you are, you take your shot.

"You know you’re not invincible," Allan said. "By you getting vaccinated, you’re also protecting all the people around you."

The waiting game

Austin Reese knows he will likely be at the very end of the line when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.

He's 25-years-old, healthy, and has been working from home since last March.

He was surprised when News 5 told him how long it could take for him to be eligible to receive a vaccine, but Reese said it's more important older individuals and others at high-risk are first in line.

"I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of being safe so I don’t mind it too much," he said. "I would rather people who need it get it first."

While Reese misses sporting events and hanging out with friends, he is grateful he has been able to work from home and stay safe throughout the pandemic.

"l'll just have to continue that and just hope that there’s an end to it sooner than later," he said. "Just be hopeful about it. I guess is the only thing you can really do."