The Westlake Fire Department and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) worked together on Wednesday, Dec. 30, to distribute Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to upwards of 700 EMS personnel and first responders from multiple West Side suburbs at Westlake Fire Station #2 on Columbia Road.
It is was the third such POD (Point of Dispensing) site set up by the CCBH in the span of a week. The first two were held at fire stations in Shaker Heights and Independence. Officials estimate more than 300 first responders were vaccinated at each of those sites, making the Westlake POD the most ambitious of the three.
“Today, we have a very aggressive goal of vaccinating those 700 individuals,” Westlake Fire Chief Jim Hughes said. “We’re going to do that through a partnership with all the Weshore fire departments - Lakewood, Fairview Park, Rocky River and Bay Village - along with the Board of Health. And, of course, we couldn’t have done this at all without the support of the Westlake Police Department.”
The personnel administering the vaccines wore PPE, including M95 masks, and received vaccinations beforehand.
Westlake Mayor Dennis M. Clough expressed optimism about vaccine’s potential impact on day-to-day life.
“The vaccines will be very beneficial to making sure that our safety forces stay healthy while they’re responding to people throughout the year,” Mayor Clough said. “This vaccine is a great step to making sure that we can [return to normal] hopefully by the beginning of the summer.”
CCBH Communications Officer Kevin Brennan said similar drive-through PODs will be held in the months ahead.
“We do anticipate in the coming months that we will have public dispensation of the vaccine and we may be using the fire stations again,” Brennan said. “It likely will depend on the weather at that time. If it’s warmer weather, we’ll do our best to do it outside. But if it’s colder and raining, we may ask the fire stations for cooperation again.”
Brennan noted that “open air” distribution sites are preferable to indoor sites as they reduce the risk of transmission.
“We really appreciate the cooperation from the fire stations of the cities in letting us use the drive-through bays at the fire stations,” Brennan said. “Obviously, we can open the doors on either end. We can keep people in their cars so we can limit contact.”
Vaccine recipients were asked to park just outside the distribution site for 15-20 minutes in case they experienced common side effects such as mild fever or upset stomach.