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Second round of COVID 1B vaccinations to start this week

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Having vaccinated 400 Belmont County residents age 80 and older last week, Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul and staff are making ready to administer more shots as the age range of eligible recipients drops to 75 and older.

However, many in the 80-and-up age range are still awaiting their shots, and health workers are trying to balance those needs with the expanding caseload.

Sproul said his office received another 400 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech version of the vaccine. This type of vaccine requires deep-freeze storage for long periods, but will keep without it for a few days. Sproul arranged a one-day vaccination clinic last week for registered recipients who were contacted, and a vaccination day has been slated for later this week. Those who have registered at the health department’s website at belmontcountyhealth.com will be contacted as they are eligible.

Each person vaccinated must receive a second dose in about 29 days.

“We are planning on some 75-plus people in addition to 80-plus. We have spoken to many who were able to receive the vaccine at Kroger or Barnesville Hospital,” Sproul said in a text message.

He added that the Kroger pharmacies in St. Clairsville and Bellaire have also received more shipments of vaccine doses.

About 45 percent of Belmont County’s population is 65 years old and older, making the state’s 1B group of senior citizens to be vaccinated a particularly challenging task.

Kroger pharmacies encourage customers to visit kroger.com/ohiocovidvaccine or to call the COVID-19 vaccine helpline at 866-211-5320 for the latest information on vaccine availability in the area. All vaccinations will require an appointment.

WVU Medicine Barnesville Hospital can be reached at 740-425-5255.

More information about active COVID-19 cases and vaccinations available in a given area can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Sproul reported Belmont County has had a total of 4,791 positive cases since the onset of the pandemic, with 898 people in isolation at home with active cases. There have been 3,761 recoveries, 44 people are hospitalized, and 88 people have died after contracting the virus.

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