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Will the winter storm in Northeast Ohio affect your ability to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

3News checked around to several area vaccine providers to find out if the forecast of heavy snow will affect your COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

CLEVELAND — Editor's Note: The above story aired on February 12, 2021

A Winter Storm Warning is now in effect in Northeast Ohio through Tuesday at 1 p.m. Some parts of the area could see up to 14 inches of snow before it's all over. 

We're no strangers to winter weather, but there's a bit of a hitch when a lot of seniors need to get out and about to get their vaccines. Just under 60% of 80 year olds have received at least one dose and under 37% of 70 to 79 year olds have received theirs, so a lot of providers are still working through the those age groups, not to mention an additional list of underlying conditions is now eligible to be vaccinated as well.

Many providers are moving forward with those vaccine appointments, but if you're scheduled for one this week, you may want to call ahead to check and see if it's still happening.

With that in mind, many people have reached out to us to ask if their COVID-19 vaccination appointment will still be taking place as the weather conditions may make travel difficult. We reached out to a number of vaccine providers across Northeast Ohio to find out their plans to handle appointments during the wintry weather. 

Discount Drug Mart: "Our pharmacies are prepared to move forward with all scheduled COVID-19 vaccine appointments, regardless of weather conditions. If a patient needs to cancel their appointment for any reason, we ask that they do so in advance so that the appointment slot can be made available for another patient to schedule. Patients wishing to reschedule due to weather conditions or other extenuating circumstances may reschedule on their own using the same patient specific link provided to them during initial scheduling. If someone does not show up for their scheduled appointment or must cancel at the last minute, our pharmacists have processes in place to use those doses with eligible patients who qualify under the state criteria."

Giant Eagle spokeswoman Jannah Jablonowski: "Giant Eagle Pharmacies are prepared to move forward with all COVID-19 vaccine appointments as scheduled, regardless of weather conditions. If a patient needs to cancel their appointment for any reason, we ask that they do so in advance so that the appointment slot can be made available for another patient to schedule. If someone does not show up for their scheduled appointment or must cancel at the last minute, our pharmacists have processes in place to connect those doses to eligible patients who qualify under the criteria put in place by the state. Because supply is limited, we are not able to guarantee vaccine availability beyond the original appointment date."

MetroHealth: Not planning to cancel or reschedule any vaccination clinics

Cleveland Clinic: "The safety our of patients is our top concern. If patients are unable to make their vaccine appointments tomorrow due to the weather conditions – we will accommodate them by automatically rescheduling their appointments. We are reaching out to those who are scheduled to let them know this.  We encourage everyone to stay safe and use caution if they are traveling."  

University Hospitals: "Our clinics will be open today (Monday) and all week for both dose 1 and dose 2 Phase 1B vaccines. Our facilities and snow removal teams will be prepared with salt to keep the lots and sidewalks as clear as possible and we added heaters at the entrance. We will be prepared if patients are a bit late due to weather and we have also increased staffing in both the clinic as well as the call center.  We want to assure we have plenty of resources to answer phones and help any patients who choose to reschedule."

Summit County Public Health: "We anticipate holding our clinic tomorrow (Tuesday) at this time. However, should there be a need to cancel based on hazardous conditions we will reschedule. Since our clinic tomorrow is a second dose clinic rescheduling would be fairly easy as we have contact information for all individuals with appointments."

Geauga Public Health: "We are not currently planning to cancel vaccination appointments."

Carroll County General Health District: Drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic is postponed until Wednesday, February 17.

Cuyahoga County Board of Health and Lorain County General Health District have not announced their plans as of Monday afternoon.

University Hospitals is bringing in extra staff to man the phones for seniors who want to reschedule and Cleveland Clinic is giving people the option as well.
If your appointment has not been rescheduled or cancelled, give yourself extra drive time to deal with snowy roads if necessary. And dress in layers. Remember they need access to your arm, so wear a short sleeved shirt under those layers to make it easier.

And remember, that vaccine is not a free pass. It may prevent you from getting severely sick, but there's still a chance you can get COVID and pass it on to others. So those safety guidelines stay in place. Stay warm.

More Weather Coverage:

COVID-19 vaccine guides:

Editor's Note: The below video aired on February 12, 2021