Former Boardman Dillard’s to Serve as Mass Vaccination Site

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The former Dillard’s building in Boardman will serve as a mass vaccination site for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in April, Mahoning County Health Commissioner Ryan Tekac says. 

The vaccination clinic at the former department store initially would receive 2,500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine weekly, with the potential for that to be increased to 5,000, depending on need, Tekac says. The site could be open from 60 days to eight weeks, he said.  

Conversations began a couple weeks ago with the Ohio Department of Health about hosting a mass vaccination site for the tri-county area, Tekac says. The health department is currently offering vaccinations at the Austintown Senior Center. However, Tekac says he knew a larger facility would be needed with the expansion of eligibility, beginning Thursday, to individuals age 50 and older or with Type 2 diabetes or end-stage renal disease. 

“We knew we had to go to a larger location, but we also wanted to mirror what we’re doing now,” he says. The health department has received “nothing but compliments” on how it’s operated the Austintown clinic, with people needing to wait no longer than half an hour to get through, he adds.

Tekac says his department looked at several potential sites that were large enough to accommodate the vaccinations. The Southern Park Mall, where the Dillard’s building is located, is on a bus route and is a widely known location, which was important since it is serving as a regional vaccination center. 

“The inside of the building is in great shape,” he notes.

The department contacted the Cafaro Co., the owner of the Dillard’s building, about using it for the vaccination site, says Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for Cafaro. The company is providing the property to the county health department rent free.

The first floor of the space is 94,000 square feet, but “they’ll probably only use a fraction of that,” Bell says.

When the Cafaro Co. purchased the two-story building two years ago, the intent was to market it for “any number of uses,” but the pandemic “put a real squeeze on any type of real estate deals being done,” he says.

“Right now, the most important thing is to get these vaccines in people’s arms,” Bell says. “If we can do anything to help facilitate that, we want to do that.” 

The goal is to begin offering the vaccinations as soon as the first week in April at the Boardman site, Tekac says. The site will be open Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate people who are working during the week. Hours for the clinic have not been set yet.  

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.