CLEVELAND — Some Northeast Ohio residents are concerned Ohio may not be keeping pace with other states in issuing the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Diane Seith of North Ridgeville, and other local residents contacted News 5 after they discovered Cleveland Clinic Martin Health in Florida is already taking COVID-19 vaccination appointments for people 65 and older, and there is still no word when that could happen here in Northeast Ohio.
“All of a sudden I’m noticing you can only register if you happen to be in Florida," Seith said. “If you’re 65 in Florida, you can go get in-line, why can’t we here?”
“And I’m hoping that it’s equitable across the county.” “Why, why is this, what’s slowing things down that’s my question. Especially being in northeast Ohio where we do have incredible systems here," she added.
“Why I can register for a shot in Florida, but not here in Cleveland?”
News 5 contacted the Cleveland Clinic here in Northeast Ohio and it issued the following statement:
"As you know, each state is following its own guidance. Details are still being worked out for here, but we will share them as soon as we have them."
On Dec. 30, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledged the distribution of first-round vaccinations are not taking place as quickly as he would like, and said the recording of those receiving shots is lagging behind on the Ohio Department of Health web dashboard.
“The numbers I was looking at on our dashboard were not going up as fast, frankly, as I thought that they should," DeWine said. “There’s been an input problem, a problem, and we’re trying to work that out.”
On Dec. 31 the Centers for Disease Control Vaccination Data Tracker indicated Ohio was lagging behind Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and several other states on the number vaccinations issued per 100,000 residents, but it too admitted its reporting system is lagging behind.
DeWine responded by asking Ohio hospitals to try and issue vaccinations, and record them with the state, within 24-hours of getting its supply of the vaccine.
But Dr. Robyn Strosaker, chief operating officer with University Hospitals, told News 5 a 24-hour turnaround is difficult when anticipated shipments of the vaccine aren't always reliable.
“We’ve had our vaccine at University Hospitals for about a week," Strosaker said.
“We don’t always know when we’re going to get a delivery, and so to schedule thousands of vaccine appointments, if you don’t know if you’re going to have the vaccine, that’s always a little more challenging," she said.
“Remember we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and we’re trying to avoid long lines, so everyone needs a scheduled appointment, so 24-hours maybe a little aggressive.”
Strosaker said she believes the general public here in Ohio should have access to the COVID-19 vaccine in March, and said she's hopeful people over the age of 65 should be able to schedule appointments for the initial shot in the next couple of weeks.
“Yes, I think general public in March," Strosaker said. "1B will be much sooner than that, I know the Governor would very much like to start 1B by the middle of January.”
As of Jan. 1, the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard indicated just of over 1% of Ohioans had received the first round of the vaccine.