CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohioans 75 and older this week joined those 80 and older in the quest to get the COVID-19 vaccine, creating fears that the already frustrating process will become more so with more people seeking shots.
Ohio’s vaccine rollout began Jan. 19 with people 80 and older eligible to line up for the shot, and those 75 and older became eligible on Monday. We sought to find out how well the rollout is working.
Phase 1A of the rollout included healthcare and EMS workers, and residents and staff in nursing homes, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Ohio’s phase 1B of the rollout includes residents 65 and up, with the timing broken down by age group.
The system requires the elderly to contact a list of about 90 providers to find the vaccine and make an appointment for the shot. It’s a time-consuming and frustrating job, readers say.
There is concern that elderly without assistance, computers or cell phones won’t be able to set up vaccine appointments.
We asked cleveland.com readers to share their experiences in signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine in order to gauge how well the state’s vaccine rollout is going in its early days. Below is a sample of the responses.
Disappointing experience in Lorain Co.
The Lorain County Health Department said anyone who lived or worked in Lorain County could walk in or drive in between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at multiple sites (to receive the vaccine).
I selected the North Ridgeville Fire Department drive-in location and I arrived (shortly before 9 a.m.) The line reached the nearby intersection at that time. I left at 1 p.m. The anaphylactic shock observation (site) was at a nearby parking lot, but I was in the wrong lane when I arrived, so I drove home to Avon Lake.
Four hours is an unreasonable amount of time for hundreds of 80-year-old to sit in their cars. There were no washrooms, no water and no opportunity to exit your car. I dread returning. All personnel at this facility were wonderful! — M.H.
Smooth sailing at Clinic
My father-in-law is 96 and is the healthiest person I know. He does not have any computers or cell phones. We created a MyChart account with the Clinic years ago for him. When we heard it was time for him to get his vaccine, I went to MyChart. I picked a day and a time. It was very easy to use. (Getting the vaccine) was an excellent experience. Thank you to all of the staff at Cleveland Clinic- Hillcrest Hospital. — C.S.
Suggestions for smoother rollout
Do (state health officials) realize that some of the providers with multiple locations do not support pre-registering, therefore they cannot give preference to the 75-and-older group, or any of the subsequent groups?
Do they realize that as they open it up to more age groups, it will get harder and harder for anyone to find an open appointment? That is, unless the supply increases greatly.
Why not get the majority of one age group vaccinated before starting with a lower age group?
Please make sure all the 1B group has had a fair chance to get the vaccine before opening it up to the general public. Otherwise, many in the 1B group will be shut out for months. — S.J.
Elderly need help
I am sorry that so many elderly people were having difficulty getting an appointment for the vaccine. Luckily, I have My Chart, so I could see the days and times available for my appointment. Since I am 93, my daughter drove me there and the only chaos was in front of the hospital door. Once inside, everything was well-organized.
I can see that for older people who are not tech-savvy, this could be difficult. They definitely need help from someone. — E.L.B.
Faster rollout needed
How about pushing for more vaccinations throughout the counties for all age groups? Why is there such a huge delay in this? You see all these movie stars receiving vaccinations. Why not put together a plan for additional age groups who could serve as runover for vaccines that are not wasted? The sooner the better for everyone. — M.H.
The State of Ohio and Cuyahoga County process for vaccine distribution is a complete disaster. A few lucky recipients are receiving vaccines and are thrilled, but the vast majority of people over 80 (including my mother, 82) are completely shut out, left to register at website after website and futilely wondering if they will ever receive an offer of an appointment.
Brilliant idea to pass out the vaccine to 90 locations in Cuyahoga County, so these elderly folks can spend day after day on the phone and computer registering with 20 different hospitals and drug stores, hoping they win the lottery and get a call before the next age group becomes eligible and elbows them out of line. There is no acknowledgement of registrations, no sense that you are in line. It is difficult to imagine a more anxiety-producing awful process. — M.H., Cleveland Heights
‘Luck, persistence and privilege’
Thank you for reporting on the hot mess that is getting a vaccine for mom.
Sadly, even with resources and access to technology, it is a matter of luck, persistence and privilege to get COVID-19 vaccine into the arm of an elderly loved one.
I am concerned about the digital divide and how this affects the have-nots of technology, especially the poor and the elderly without an advocate.
I feel like we won the lottery; my 90-year-old mom got her COVID-19 vaccine yesterday and we literally celebrated!
It became very clear that in order to get a vaccine, you’d better: — C.H., Lakewood
Drive-thru option in Lorain Co.
My father is 88 and lives in Lorain County. I signed him up for the vaccine on the Lorain County Health Department website. He received an email advising him that anyone 80 and over could get vaccine No. 1 on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There were three available sites, and all were first come first served. Two were drive thru locations, and the third was at the Lorain County JVS in Oberlin.
The health department recommended the drive thru locations for those who could not stand for long periods of time. They stated not to arrive before the start time, and recommended planning your arrival for later in the day.
My first thought was the drive-thru locations would have cars lined up hours before opening, which would probably be a traffic nightmare. My father gets around with a walker, which he can sit on, so I decided I would take him to the JVS location and wait in line. I saw on the news that one of the drive-thru locations ran out of vaccine in an hour.
(Instead, we) scheduled an appointment at the Elyria Giant Eagle. The whole appointment went very smoothly. I feel very fortunate to have gotten an appointment at Giant Eagle, and to able to avoid waiting in line. — M.P., Avon
Kudos to Akron VA
I’d like to put in a big plug for the Akron VA Outpatient Clinic of the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.
I am 88 years old. I heard a voicemail message from the VA asking me to contact them about a COVID-19 vaccination. When I phoned back, the lady who answered said, “I see you already have an appointment for audiology on the 21st. I’ll set up your vaccination for the same visit.”
The well-organized (vaccination) procedure was completed in 30 minutes. I have always had an excellent relationship with the Akron VA. The staff is a great combination of friendliness and professionalism. — D.S., Hudson
‘Not confident in the process’
We registered for the vaccine at UH and Discount Drug Mart. My husband is eligible the week of Jan. 25 and I am eligible two weeks later. Why are we limited to only our own county, which is Cuyahoga? I am sure the hospitals employ workers from multiple counties, but (hospitals) do not discriminate by county when vaccinating their employees. We are still hopeful we will get the vaccine, but not confident in the process. — B.L.