CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Health Department is developing plans to vaccinate people against the COVID-19 coronavirus on the fly when dosed by the state, interim health director Brian Kimball said Monday.
But Kimball told the city council’s Health and Social Welfare Committee that widespread vaccination is still a long way off, as the provision of vaccines to health departments and others is nowhere near enough to meet requirements.
At this point in time, the city and hospitals, health centers and pharmacies that also offer vaccinations do not know from week to week how many new doses they are likely to receive.
“Because of the limited supply and doses we receive each week, we need to be strategic about how and where to give the vaccine,” said Kimball. “We don’t want to panic and get individuals to travel and get to a place and there are no doses for them there.”
Individuals 65 and older are included in state guidelines for Phase 1B, with people 80 and over being addressed first.
Approximately 15,000 Cleveland residents are 80 years and older, but only about 5,000 doses of vaccine for that group have been received from the 30 Cleveland organizations that offer vaccination, said Tracy Martin-Thompson, whose job is to oversee the administration of the Department of Health Mayor Frank Jackson heard.
Therefore, for the time being, the city is relying on its Aging Department to distribute information to high-profile skyscrapers and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority as it takes advantage of its limited supply of vaccines, Kimball said. This allows the city to register people in advance for vaccinations and ensure that no vaccine is wasted.
Cleveland set up a vaccination clinic in the public auditorium and created a mobile unit to bring vaccines to nursing homes. It is planned to set up additional locations in recreation centers.
Last week 140 people aged 80 and over were vaccinated at the Collinwood Recreation Center. Vaccinations are expected to be carried out on the west side of the city this week, for the time being at the Estabrook Recreation Center.
Cleveland received 200 doses, most of which were given at the Collinwood Recreation Center last week. Another 100 doses are expected this week, Kimball said.
For Phase 1A – frontline health workers, first responders, and nursing home workers and residents – Cleveland received 6,900 doses of vaccine. By Monday, the city had administered 5,590 doses to people who met Phase 1A criteria, according to the Jackson government.
All organizations that do vaccination in Cleveland – including the Cleveland Clinic, university hospitals, and the MetroHealth system – have received limited amounts of vaccines, Martin-Thompson said.
Kimball said it was unknown how long the limited vaccine supply would hamper mass vaccination against the coronavirus.
Vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna are the only ones currently approved for use by the federal government. A vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson is currently under review and could be available by March, Kimball said.
Meanwhile, Cleveland is working to improve communications with Cuyahoga County hospitals and health department to improve coordination of vaccines, Martin-Thompson said.
Regular talks are held between these facilities and the city, but a general plan of attack to coordinate vaccinations across Cleveland has not been developed due to a desire to launch vaccines immediately after the state publishes regulatory guidelines, she said.
Cleveland residents can obtain more information about vaccination availability by calling the city health department at 216-664-2222. More information is available through the county 211 information line, Kimball said.
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