Over-the-Rhine food and drink workers offered COVID-19 vaccines

Posted at 11:21 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 23:53:44-04

CINCINNATI — For unemployed art student Ashley Crowl, a private vaccine clinic for hospitality workers, friends and family only felt more open than public clinics.

"I'm so busy with everything else. I didn't know where else I'd be able to find the vaccine. So I was really excited that I had this opportunity," she told WCPO.

It's part of Ohio's plan to deliver Covid-19 vaccine to arms struggling to find shots. Starting last Monday, Gov. Mike Dewine let hospitals, pharmacies, federally qualified health centers and public health departments hoard up to 25% of weekly vaccine shipments for employee- or member-only clinics for businesses, churches and community groups.

Mercy Health is working with 15 churches and businesses. In Butler County, public health spokesperson Erin Smiley told us private clinics are a "work in progress" with several planned in coming weeks.

A few minutes south of General Electric and Procter & Gamble spent weeks setting up shots with Hamilton County, where public health commissioner Greg Kesterman thinks such clinics only improve overall vaccine access.

"There are appointments available on our website," he said. "If we start to have a hard-time filling appointments, we'll try different strategies to get into our communities, including pushing more to businesses."

Kesterman's team gets almost 3,000 vaccines a week and he insists demand dictates how much they hold back from the public.

"We also want to make sure that we're providing equitable access to our vaccines, which also means we're bringing vaccines straight to the community and making appointments easy to get," he said.