CLEVELAND — Nearly seven hundred EMS and first responders from the western suburbs of Cuyahoga County received their COVID-19 shots at the Westlake Fire Department vaccine drive thru last week.
However, there are about three thousand EMS workers in Cuyahoga county and Cleveland and that doesn't even make a dent in who needs to be vaccinated.
"That 1A group is very, very large in our county," says Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan. "If you think about it, it's estimated that 20 percent of our workforce is in healthcare, which is huge."
It's a logistical juggernaut. It takes about 70 board of health workers to run these sites. While hospitals take care of their own, pharmacies are helping with nursing homes, but county health departments get everyone else.
"In Cuyahoga County, people who care for the developmentally disabled, all the healthcare providers for substance abuse programs, and healthcare workers that are independent," explains Allan.
When they're through with those, phase 1B will start.
That group will include adults working in schools as well as people over age 65, which is even bigger than the 1A group.
Smaller counties may be able to get through the phases faster, but remember, those who get the shots now, need to get their second dose in a couple weeks.
"Hearing that it will take perhaps till the end of February to get through the phase 1A group in the large urban counties doesn't surprise me," says Allan. "This has never been done before at this level."
The bottom line is if you're not in one of the first phases, you gotta wait your turn.
"It's a big task here, so patience is a virtue as we work through the process," Allan adds.
So how will you know when it's your turn? It may depend on where you live, but also your profession, your age, your underlying health conditions and whether you've already had COVID-19. You can check with your provider too.
Meanwhile, there is hope, we're expecting Astra Zeneca and Johnson and Johnson to get emergency use authorization in the next couple of months, so we'll have more of a supply, to keep up with the demand.
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Editor's Note: The below story aired on January 3, 2021