CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — Cuyahoga County and the United Way of Greater Cleveland have partnered to bring residents a dedicated COVID-19 vaccination information helpline.
What You Need To Know
- United Way’s 2-1-1 COVID-19 Helpline is staffed with extra workers between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. who can provide Cuyahoga County residents with the information and resources they need to identify vaccine providers in their area
- Officials are still vaccinating people in group 1A while beginning vaccinating people in group 1B
- Cuyahoga County has begun sending mobile units to begin inoculating developmentally disabled residents who are served by the county’s 480 facilities
- Vaccine supplies are still extremely limited so officials are cautioning residents to be patient and stay safe by wearing masks, washing hands and practicing social distancing
The 2-1-1 COVID-19 Helpline is staffed with extra workers between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. who can provide Cuyahoga County residents with the information and resources they need to identify vaccine providers in their area.
During the county’s weekly COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan said the 2-1-1- COVID-19 Helpline is a welcome asset, because MetroHealth found that 80 percent of people over 80 are more comfortable using the phone than the web to access information.
Another population that requires special care is people who are developmentally disabled and served by the county’s 480 facilities, Allan said. Many can’t travel to large vaccination sites so the county has sent out mobile units to begin inoculating them, he said.
“That’s a big number,” Allan said. With the help of MetroHealth, however, smaller vaccination sites are also being set up to serve this population.
During the briefing, County Executive Armond Budish said the vaccine is still in short supply, and the new administration in the White House has its own approach to distribution.
“But even if you’re eligible, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get a shot,” he said. “Supplies remain way, way, way, way, too limited.”
He cautioned residents to remain vigilant as the vaccine distribution is rolling out and warned people to not let their guards down.
“Imagine if you got COVID just days before getting the vaccine,” he said. “The vaccine’s not a cure. It would be terrible.”
Ohio chose a decentralized approach to distribution, Budish said. As a result, Cuyahoga County has more than 90 different providers, including physicians, pharmacies, clinics and hospitals, who are authorized to administer the vaccine to those in group 1B.
“The idea is that it’s easier for people to get to places near them instead of having to figure out how to get to one central location,” Budish said. “But with very small amounts, each location will only have relatively few doses, which means that they’re likely to run out quickly.”
Group 1B includes people over 65, those with severe medical conditions, and school staff and administration in grades K-12, who will be vaccinated using the following schedule:
- Jan. 25 – 75 and older, and people with severe congenital or developmental disorders
- Feb. 1 – 70 and older, and employees of K-12 schools
- Feb. 8 – 65 and older
The county’s 2-1-1- COVID-19 Helpline staffers will help callers determine what group they fall in, as well as what additional documents or requirements they might need to register for the vaccination, such as proof of age, Budish said.
The 2-1-1- COVID-19 Helpline uses a county GIS application to find the nearest vaccine distributor based on data distributed weekly from the state, Budish said.
“We know that this whole process is frustrating and it’s confusing,” Budish said. “And we’re working to make this as simple as we possibly can.”
Residents can also get county information at a special county website set up to disseminate vaccine information. The county will also send a letter to all the seniors in the county detailing vaccine information, Allan said.
Including vaccinations given over last weekend, the county has distributed more than 7,000 vaccinations since the process started, and has used about 90 percent of the supply it received for group 1A, Allan said.
The county is finishing that group 1A while vaccinating those in group 1B, he said.
Currently Cuyahoga County’s COVID-19 infection rates are still six times what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set as the threshold for high transmission rates, he said.
For a list of vaccine providers, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Health website.