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College vaccination clinic dates set

Stephen Mirides of the St. Clairsville area has his hand held by daughter Maysen, 7, while he gets his shot at the Ohio Valley Mall vaccination clinic Wednesday. Volunteer nurse Irene Louda administers shot. T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Plans are proceeding for student vaccinations at Belmont County’s colleges with the first vaccination clinic scheduled for next week.

Belmont County Deputy Health Commissioner Rob Sproul said plans are going forward despite a delay in receiving the single-shot Johnson and Johnson version of the vaccine. Health department staff and volunteers will administer the Moderna version, which requires two doses spaced about a month apart.

“(Johnson and Johnson) are having a manufacturing problem,” Sproul said. “That kind of delays them a little bit, so we’re waiting for them to gear back up with their production.”

“We’re looking at Belmont College we’re going to be doing next Tuesday, and we’re going to do OUE the following Tuesday. The biggest issue we’re running into right now is we’re waiting on the state to send us the vaccine to use there, because they’re wanting us to do J & J because the kids will be out 28 days, so for that second shot, coming back is a little more difficult. If we have to do that, we will do it. We will do the Moderna and just have them come back in 28 days to get that second shot,” Sproul said.

“We’re hoping the J & J will come in,” he said. “According to the (Centers for Disease Control) we can do (the second shot) a few days earlier, or if they have to go later, they’ll go later. I know a lot of the pharmacies have been doing second doses for people, if college students have to leave this area and go back home. … It’s the same with us. We’ve got a lot of people coming back from Florida. They received their dose in Florida and come back here and need their second dose.”

Sproul said weekly vaccination clinics at the Ohio Valley Mall will also be an option.

“If they’re not able to do it the day we’re there, they can come into the clinic,” Sproul said.

Belmont College is holding a sign-up and determining the number of first doses needed for the mass vaccination clinic.

Other plans include setting up closer vaccination options for residents who live along the Ohio River.

“We’re looking at setting up some clinics down towards the river, around the Bellaire area,” he said. “So people with mobility issues, if they can’t get transportation up here. (The Ohio Department of Transportation) is working with the East Ohio Regional Transit Authority out of Wheeling … about some transportation to the clinics for COVID, but that’s in the working process.”

Vaccinations are open to every Ohioan age 16 and older. This week, 1,100 second doses were scheduled and more than 200 first doses administered.

Among those being vaccinated Wednesday was 36-year-old Stephen James Mirides of the St. Clairsville area.

“I don’t want to catch it and give it to my daughter or to my mother-in-law. Not mainly for me, but for my family that I’m around every day,” he said, adding some of his family members have comorbidities that put them at risk. “My grandfather just passed away a week ago. He caught COVID. He already had health problems.”

Since the pandemic’s onset, Belmont County has had 5,776 cases, with 315 people actively infected and in isolation or hospitalized and 5,351 recoveries. A total of 110 residents have died after being infected with the virus, with the two latest deaths reported on Wednesday being a 53-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man.

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