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FEMA to assist Ohio in mass vaccination site in Cleveland

In this Dec. 14, 2020 file photo, Ohio State employee Cory Coffey, right, administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine , in Columbus, Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine is ready to mark one year of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. It was 12 months ago Wednesday, March 2, 2021, that he laid down strict attendance limits on the annual Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, which brings thousands of people to the capital city. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A mass vaccination clinic with the capacity to administer 6,000 COVID-19 vaccines a day will open in Cleveland this month with support from the Biden administration, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Friday.

The community vaccination center will open on March 17 at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center in downtown Cleveland after state and federal officials designated the area based on its proximity to high-risk communities and medically underserved populations.

“Now that the supply of vaccine is significantly increasing, this is the perfect time for a large-scale clinic in Ohio to bolster our work to get shots in arms quickly, efficiently, and equitably,” DeWine said in a release Friday morning.

The site in Cleveland joins the nearly 20 FEMA-supported sites that have been announced by the White House in recent weeks as part of a broader effort by the administration to get shots into arms more quickly and reach minority communities hit hard by the outbreak.

The federal government is funding the site as well as providing the additional vaccine supply and the staff to administer it.

The area around the clinic was identified through the CDC as having a moderately socially vulnerable population. Of the 25,000 people that live within 1 mile of the Wolstein Center, more than 60% are minorities, 6.36% are elderly and almost 45% of households live in poverty.

The doses that will be administered at the center will be in addition to the state’s regular vaccine allotment after many governors became reluctant to take part if it meant sharing part of their statewide allocation.

DeWine also announced Friday that the state will be opening up 15 long-term mass vaccination clinics across Ohio to expand regional access to the vaccine. These clinics will not be part of the White House initiative and are strictly funded by the state.

The sites will be located in Lima, Dayton, Columbus, Akron, Youngstown, Cincinnati, Chillicothe, Marietta, Wilmington and Zanesville.

In addition to those sites, four mobile vaccine clinics will also be making their way around other mid-size and rural areas of the state, DeWine said.

As of Friday, more than 1.8 million Ohioans have at least received their first doses of the various vaccines on the market, according to the state dashboard. DeWine said there was an issue at the beginning of more demand for the vaccine than supply, but things changed this week when President Joe Biden announced the ramping up of supply and even promised enough for all Americans by end of May.

“We are really at a point in this battle against the virus where we now have a very effective weapon. We have three weapons. Three different vaccines,” DeWine told reporters Friday. “They’re very effective tools that we need to really drive this virus around and get back to normal.”

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