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Cleveland Hospitals To Start Second Vaccine Doses In Early January

MetroHealth and University Hospitals will exhaust their initial shipment of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as early as the first week of January, according to doctors at both hospitals.

MetroHealth has its second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine in hand, said the hospital system’s Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Dr. Brook Watts, and it will be used to administer the second dose for health care workers who have already had their first shots. 

Second doses will start the first week of January, three weeks after MetroHealth began using the vaccine on Dec. 16.

“When we put the first dose in, we really had no guarantee of when that (second dose) would come,” Watts said.

University Hospitals also plans to finish the first shipment of vaccine in the next week, said Chief Operating Officer Dr. Robyn Strosaker.

“We’ve actually accelerated our schedule, based on our success over the first few days,” Strosaker said.

She said UH moved a little slower in the first few days because it was a new process and they needed to make sure the new technology was working properly.

“Once we started to ramp clinics up to what we thought was going to be full speed early this week, we actually made the decision to go even faster because things were moving so smoothly,” she said. “We’re pretty happy with the velocity of our vaccines right now.”

But Strosaker said the uncertainty of when vaccines will arrive and how much will arrive slows down the hospital’s ability to schedule appointments for their staff to get vaccinated. 

Watts echoed the concern, saying the slowest and most unpredictable part of the process has been the supply chain.

"We don’t know when we’re going to get more vaccine,” Watts said. “If I had more vaccine right now, I’d put it in arms right now."

In his Wednesday briefing, Gov. Mike DeWine said the vaccination process is moving too slowly, but he acknowledged problems including vaccine doses not arriving as scheduled and overburdened local health departments. 

MetroHealth’s Dr. Watts thinks some places that are moving more slowly might be paralyzed by the decision of who gets the vaccine.

“The reality is, all these groups are deserving. There are far more deserving people than there is vaccine,” she said. “The only wrong answer is not to get the vaccine out.”

Hospitals have also been able to vaccinate more people than expected because there have been more doses than expected in each vial.

MetroHealth thought they’d get 975 doses, but Watts said it’s now closer to 1,200.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health, which is also administering the vaccine, said it has used half of its first shipment of 4,000 doses.

County Health Commissioner Terry Allan said there have been some challenges causing the vaccination process to move more slowly than expected.

“The vaccine arrived here in Ohio just before the holidays, and so some of the complications there certainly were on staffing,” he said. “Also, people’s general interest in getting the vaccine over the holidays, we know that’s been varied quite a bit.”

Vaccine Signup Error

Allan announced Thursday that an email link for vaccine signups was mistakenly sent to more people than are eligible for the vaccine. Right now, only people in phase 1A, which includes frontline health care workers and people living and working in congregate living facilities, are eligible.

“If you do not meet these criteria, you are not currently eligible to be vaccinated, and we ask you to be patient to allow us to work through this very large 1A group,” Allan said.

The county is currently working on vaccinating people living in and working at homes for the developmentally disabled.

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