Ideastream.org, By Lisa Ryan, Posted March 16th 2021
Amid confusion and frustration from the public over finding available places to get the COVID vaccines, Ohio opened a new centralized COVID-19 vaccine registration website this week.
The web tool is being touted by state officials as a place to help Ohioans find out if they are eligible for a vaccine, and where they can register for it.
However, the site still requires users to go to multiple different websites to actually sign-up for vaccine appointments, which is very similar to what many people are already doing on their own.
The website asks what language the person would prefer, but as of Tuesday, English was the only option on the drop-down menu.
Then, the website asks a series of questions to see if you or the person you are registering is eligible for the vaccine, and it asks you to give your address, city, or ZIP code, or a nearby city if there are no clinics available near you.
From there, a list of vaccine providers in that 20-mile radius pops up.
In Cleveland, those providers include the Cleveland Department of Public Health, local hospitals, and pharmacies such as The Centers for Families and Children Pharmacy.
For most vaccine providers listed on the state’s website, users have to book appointments on a separate website, but some providers allow scheduling directly on the state’s website.
“We are requiring providers to either schedule vaccines using this system or another electronic scheduling system that interfaces with this portal,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a Monday tweet.
“We believe this will streamline the scheduling process, reduce data lags, and provide real-time information on vaccination progress.”
The governor’s tweets, however, received some critical responses from readers, including people who expressed disappointment with the site’s functionality and those who said they wish a centralized system was available when vaccinations started.
“This site should have been up months ago so that Ohioans could have gotten in the queue and received electronic updates,” said Aryeh Alex, a Twitter user, and a Franklin Township Trustee.
Many people said that after going through the website, they still couldn’t find an available appointment.
According to a series of tweets from DeWine on Monday, state officials will continue to work with vaccine providers to load more appointments into the system. Each day, there will be more appointments added.
“Ohioans can use the tool to determine if they are eligible to receive the vaccine, schedule appointments, and receive updates and reminders,” one of DeWine’s tweets said. “As of this morning, there were thousands of appointments available through the tool.”
The state will use the centralized website to book appointments at upcoming mass vaccination sites, including the FEMA site at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, according to the governor’s tweets.
Officials anticipate 6,000 shots will be provided each day at the Wolstein Center.