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Wolstein Center In Cleveland To Be One Of Ohio's 15 Mass Vaccination Sites

The Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Center on Cleveland State University's campus will be the site of a new mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic starting Wednesday, March 17, state officials announced Friday. [Google Maps]
The Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Center on Cleveland State University's campus is the site of a new mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic starting Wednesday, March 17, officials announced Friday. [Google Maps]

Updated: 2:06 p.m., Friday, March 5, 2020

As many as 6,000 people could be vaccinated per day in Cleveland as part of a new mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic starting March 17, federal and state officials announced Friday. 

The clinic will be held for eight weeks at the Wolstein Center on Cleveland State University’s campus in downtown Cleveland, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced in a press release. 

It’s one of 15 state-sponsored mass vaccination clinics across the state opening soon, the governor said at a Friday afternoon press conference at the Wolstein Center. 

The clinics will be located in Lima, Maumee, Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Youngstown, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Marietta, Wilmington, and Zanesville. Four mobile mass vaccination clinics also will also make rounds: based out of Ada to serve areas of northwestern and west-central Ohio; Athens for southeastern Ohio; Mansfield for north-central Ohio; and Steubenville for east-central Ohio. 

The state also will host two temporary pop-up vaccination sites in Columbus and Cincinnati March 19, DeWine said. 

“Now that the supply of vaccine is significantly increasing, this is the perfect time for a large-scale clinic in Ohio to bolster our work to get shots in arms quickly, efficiently, and equitably,” DeWine said in the press release. 

The state-run sites will have the capacity to administer 300 to 3,000 vaccines per day, depending on the location, he explained Friday. 

Anyone who qualifies under the state’s eligibility requirements – which currently includes individuals over 60 and people with certain high-risk medical conditions – can sign up for the clinics, but high-risk and underserved populations will be prioritized, according to the release. 

Individuals cannot yet book an appointment for the Wolstein Center clinic in Cleveland, but they soon will be able to sign up online, over the phones or even in person, DeWine said. 

“The whole idea is to just do anything we can to make it easy for people and knock down any barriers that might exist for people to be able to access these vaccines,” he said. 

DeWine said he was not yet sure if the clinic would eventually take walk-ins. 

The clinic will open for about 100 people March 16 as a test run, and become fully operational on March 17.

The location was selected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was recommended by state officials due to its proximity to a large number of high-risk citizens and medically underserved populations, according to the release. 

It is also close to highways and easily accessible by RTA bus lines, County Executive Armond Budish said in the Friday press conference. 

“More than 300,000 more vaccines coming our way,” Budish said. “That’s a ‘wow.’” 

Several state agencies and the Ohio National Guard will manage the clinic, with support from FEMA. The federal government will supply the vaccine shipments, DeWine said. 

Approximately 1.1 million Ohioans ages 60 and older live in northeast Ohio, and nearly 45 percent of the more than 25,000 total Ohioans who live within one mile of the site live below the poverty level. In addition, 67 percent are minorities and 6.36 percent are elderly, according to a release from the White House. 

The CSU mass vaccination site will be open seven days a week, and the Pfizer vaccine will be administered during the first three weeks. Those who receive their first dose during that time will be “guaranteed” a second dose in the three weeks thereafter, according to the release. 

It has not yet been determined which vaccine will be used during the final two weeks of the clinic. 

Cuyahoga County officials plan to work with County Council and community organizations to provide bus passes through RTA, as well as provide other transportation resources to the vaccination site for those who need them, according to the release. 

“FEMA and our federal partners are committed to increasing COVID-19 vaccine access in socially vulnerable and underserved communities in Ohio and across the country, with an overall goal of ensuring anyone who wants a vaccine can get one,” Kevin M. Sligh, acting regional administrator of FEMA Region 5 said in the release. 

Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.