Cleveland Area Residents Can Soon Call 2-1-1 To Schedule COVID-19 Vaccines
Starting Monday, Jan. 25, the United Way of Greater Cleveland's 2-1-1 phone line will help Cleveland-area residents find COVID-19 vaccine providers near them and schedule an appointment.
Those who call might also be placed on a waiting list if their age group does not yet qualify for the vaccine.
Residents of both the city of Cleveland and suburban Cuyahoga County can use the phone line, said County Executive Armond Budish.
While there are online resources already available to direct people to vaccine providers, such as the Ohio Department of Health’s vaccine dashboard, some seniors may not have computers or Internet access.
Officials hope the phone line will help mitigate this issue, Budish said.
“The whole purpose is to be able to use a phone number. There are good websites … but unfortunately, a lot of people, especially seniors now, are not as adept at using websites,” he said.
The 2-1-1 COVID-19 resource line will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone line is connected to a call center at United Way that people can call to be referred to other community resources as well.
“There’s probably 25 to 30 percent of people in Cuyahoga County that don’t even have Internet access. So, we’re doing our best to provide a central line that’s easily accessible to everybody that will have up-to-date information,” Budish said.
If callers are eligible for a vaccine, which starting Jan. 25 will include people over 75 and individuals with a developmental disability and some severe medical conditions, they will be directed either to the hospital system they are affiliated with, their primary care office, or a pharmacy close to them that is issuing vaccines, Budish said.
United Way plans to add 15 temporary staff members to help with the COVID-19 calls, Budish said.
Officials will also send out letters to all eligible seniors in Cuyahoga County with directions on scheduling vaccines in the coming weeks, he said.
The county expects to receive approximately 15,000 vaccine doses each week for this phase of the vaccine rollout, said Terry Allan, county health commissioner. Allan estimates there are about 230,000 people in the county who are 65 and over, so the vaccine supply is very limited, he said.
The county health board is still vaccinating people in the previous phase of the vaccine rollout, which includes health care workers and first responders.
They have used almost 80 percent of their initial vaccine supply but an estimated 7,000 people are signed up and still remain to be vaccinated in this group, Allan said.
Overall, there are slight improvements in the number of new COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations, health officials said.
The county is reporting about 400 new COVID-19 cases per day this month, which decreased from about 600 per day in December, said Jana Rush, director of epidemiology.
Hospitalizations are also decreasing compared to last month, she said.
There were 3,550 new confirmed COVID-19 cases this week and 111 new deaths.
“Our infection rates are still relatively high. They have leveled off some, but we still are seeing a high level of infection within our community,” Rush said.
County data also shows the testing positivity rate, which measures how many COVID-19 tests come back positive, dropped to 16 percent this week.
“As we move towards more vaccination within the population, as well as our continued public health measures, as well as social distancing and mask wearing, we can be cautiously optimistic that our infection rate will continue to decline and improve over time,” she said.