GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio — Some Geauga County residents say they are frustrated with the vaccine rollout. So we contacted the county's health department to get them some answers.
Geauga Public Health said the state keeps adding eligible populations but is not supplying enough vaccine to immunize those who are already eligible. As a result, the health department will only schedule appointments for residents who need the second dose, plus any eligible school employees.
Geauga Public Health commissioner Tom Quade said the county gets about 100 to 200 doses a week and the doses the state allocated for school employees aren’t scheduled to arrive until Feb. 22.
“We're not going to wait until the 22. We're going to use the doses that we do have and that we do get to make sure that we can at least get that moving,” Quade said.
Quade said once those doses come in, they’ll start vaccinating seniors and other groups again.
That’s a tough pill to swallow for Sharon Moster, who lives in Burton. The pandemic has brought two different kinds of loss to her life.
“I actually lost my mother in December. Typical nursing home situation, she was declining, she got COVID, she died. But I couldn't be there,” Moster said.
It's also been months since she’s been able to spend quality time with her granddaughter, Arya.
“I can't hold her, hug her, kiss her. None of the things that grandmas want to do for their grandchildren,” Moster said. “That is the personal side of this.”
Moster said she and her husband Wayne started registering at various pharmacies and health systems when vaccines first became available so they could safely spend time with family again. Her age group opens next week, while Wayne’s age group opened up this week.
“We weren't getting any feedback from anybody at all, not even coming up to this week,” Moster said.
Moster supports school employees getting vaccinated, but is pushing back against the stalled roll out for seniors.
“In Geauga County, many of the school systems are already open. They're not virtual,” Moster said. “Therefore, I'm not in favor of the Board of Health telling me that I can't get vaccinated because teachers who are already in the classroom get vaccinated first.”
Moster wants to see the state hire a third-party to handle the vaccine rollout, so that anyone who wants the vaccine can get it.
“I do believe that if you took the CEO or COO of a couple of major corporations in the United States,” Moster said. “I believe that you could engage people who would know what to do to plan the event and who to ask.”
Quade said even though more doses are coming he feels just as frustrated as those seniors waiting for vaccinations do.
“We can't give them what we don't have. And so what we're trying to remind folks at this point, we are doing our best to push out information as it becomes available to us,” Quade said.
He also said addressing ongoing concerns about school safety is important.
“Their risk, whether they were in person before or in person now is just as high on March 1st either way, regardless of the reason that they're there,” Quade said. “And we want to make sure that we address one of the ongoing concerns that we do hear about. The absolute importance of having kids in school and an in-person learning environment, not only for the academics but for the social experience and all of that.”
After hours of searching, Moster was finally able to book an appointment for her husband this Friday at a pharmacy 45 minutes away. But with the supply issues, she worries about her fate next week.
“Every time they open another group of people, there are less appointments because they're catching up on everybody from oldest to youngest,” Moster said. “I'm just hopeful that I'll be able to get an appointment for next week.”
The full statement from the county is available here.
The district said in an effort to prepare for a safer return to in-person learning, health officials will focus on getting all school personnel vaccinated as soon as possible.
As of Feb. 1, the following people are able to receive the vaccine, but that doesn’t mean there are vaccine doses available for those who are eligible:
- Residents who live in group quarters (group homes, etc.) and staff who provide routine direct care of those individuals
- EMS and Healthcare providers who provide direct care to people known to have COVID (That is, COVID patients are not rescheduled)
- People involved in the administration of COVID vaccines
- Residents 70+ years of age
- Residents with a developmental or intellectual disability AND at least of the following conditions: cerebral palsy, spina bifida, severe congenital heart disease requiring hospitalization within the past year, severe type 1 diabetes requiring hospitalization within the past year, inherited metabolic disorders like phenylketonuria, epilepsy, hydrocephaly and microcephaly, Down syndrome, fragile x syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Turner syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, severe asthma requiring hospitalization within the past year, sickle cell anemia, alpha and beta thalassemia, and solid organ transplants.
- Employees of K-12 schools
Geauga Public Health said it’s in the process of securing a web-based scheduling solution to avoid the phone call system that has been met with frustrations.
A pre-registration tool is now available.
"We will be contacting those on the list as new information becomes available regarding when and how to make an appointment. As stated on the tool itself, the pre-registration tool is NOT a reservation or a guarantee of an appointment. There are more than 15,000 individuals on that list so please also consider trying one of the other vaccine providers listed below," the department said.
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