Ohio continues efforts to vaccinate underserved residents, will hold six clinics at senior affordable housing


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – In an effort to provide underserved Ohioans with the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that vaccination clinics will be held at six senior affordable housing complexes across the state.

“We know that we have two challenges,” DeWine said during his coronavirus briefing Tuesday. “One is to make these vaccines available in convenient places and allow people in underserved communities to get them. The other challenge we have, of course, is to make sure all Ohioans have information about the vaccine.”

Ohio Director of Aging Ursel McElroy said the clinics are an opportunity for the state to ensure equity and access to those who might not have a chance to get the vaccine.

McElroy said there are approximately 87,000 Ohioans living in senior affordable housing locations. In high-density suburban areas, there are about 700 sites across the state. She added that the vaccine clinics will allow the state to vaccinate tens of thousands of residents.

Ohio’s National Guard will join with local health commissions to operate the clinics.

“We know that these clinics will be convenient, accessible, and equitable,” McElroy said.

The six sites for the clinics were not announced during the briefing.

The clinics are part of the state’s effort to educate underserved communities such as minority populations in urban areas. Those efforts are spearheaded by local health commissions and faith-based organizations to deliver the message and ensure vaccination when it becomes available.

DeWine said that based on information from the state’s nursing homes, the more information people had, the more likely they were to take the vaccine.

Local health commissions are setting aside doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for members of underserved communities, DeWine said.

“The truth is they’re Ohioans, they’re Americans who simply don’t have equal access to health care,” DeWine said during his coronavirus briefing Tuesday. He went on to call the state’s efforts to address these inequities a work in progress.

One of the ways the state attempted to address the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine was to ensure there were multiple vaccination sites across all of Ohio’s counties. This week, DeWine said, there are more than 700 providers around the state.

The state is also utilizing Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) to distribute the vaccine, which DeWine said makes distribution equal.

The FQHCs are also teaming with local health commissions and faith-based organizations to set up pop-up vaccine clinics, two of which were held in Columbus last week and one scheduled for Cleveland this week, DeWine said.

Another way the state is addressing the inequities within the health care system is by providing transportation to medical appointments for those who need it. DeWine said the state’s Department of Health is teaming up with the Department of Medicaid to provide transportation options for those in need.

“It’s a challenge for poor people, it’s a challenge for underserved communities,” the governor said about transportation.

Established by the state, the minority vaccine advisory group has recommended virtual town hall meetings to help spread the message of the vaccine. The group consists of health care professionals, community leaders, clergy, people from the Appalachia community, minority small business owners, and advocates from around the state. The first town hall will be livestreamed the week of Feb. 22 and information on how to get involved will be posted to the state’s coronavirus website.

The website is also offering toolkits to minority leaders that helps them spread the message on the availability and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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