CLEVELAND — Beginning Thursday, more than a million Ohioans will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. The state moves into the 1-D and 2-B phases, which include Ohioans 50 and older and those with certain medical conditions.
However, there is growing frustration about how the vaccine is being rolled out statewide. WCPO sister-station WEWS in Cleveland has received emails and Facebook posts from people who are currently eligible to get the vaccination but are unable to find an appointment.
“It adds stress to the stress we are already going through this past year,” said Cathy Cheshire.
She has been searching for a vaccine appointment for her husband since the state opened the 60-and-older phase last week.
“When I heard over 60 would be available last Thursday, I woke up at 3 in the morning and spent 2 and a half hours,” she said. But still, Cheshire has not had any luck getting her husband an appointment.
She and other frustrated Ohioans do not understand why the state is moving to the next phase when those in current or previous phases have not been vaccinated yet.
“It’s very confusing how it's been rolled out. It’s like chaining us to our devices to have to find an appointment. You’re told when your turn comes up to go make an appointment, yet none are available and you’re opening it up for more ages,” said Cheshire.
Marla Zwinggi makes up half of the Vaccine Queens, two stay-at-home moms on a mission to help as many Ohioans as possible get a shot in the arm.
“There is no centralized system for getting the appointments and that’s the biggest problem we have in our state,” said Zwinggi.
The Vaccine Queens have scheduled about 1,100 vaccines for people who need help finding an appointment. Zwinggi said on Monday they were flooded with emails from those 50 years old and looking for help. Zwinggi said they will help anybody, but right now the elderly population is the priority.
“There are so many people who don’t have computers. They email us from the library. They‘re in their 80s and 90s and the librarians can’t help them because of social distancing rules,” said Zwinggi.
She said there is a digital divide; there is a population of Ohioans who don’t have computers or cell phones.
“For us, it feels like the forgotten population,” said Zwinggi.
The reason appointments are so hard to come by is supply and demand. The supply is limited while the demand remains high.