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Harrison County Health Department urges residents to get vaccinated

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Harrison County Health Department Administrator Garen Rhome, left, gives an update on the coronavirus in the county Wednesday morning at the commissioners’ meeting. Also pictured is Commissioner Paul Coffland.

CADIZ — More than 8,600 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered over four months in Harrison County with 30 percent of residents now fully vaccinated.

Garen Rhome, administrator of the county health department, said around 5,000 residents received first doses and 3,600 received their second dose. He said the department is beginning to see the number of interested residents decline.

Rhome said officials are encouraging those who have not yet received a vaccine to do so. He said more than 70 percent of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated. The health department is working to reach residents age 30 and under.

“We want younger people to get the vaccine. … We see some, but not a significant amount of younger folks,” he said.

“We want to see as many people vaccinated as possible to protect yourself and to protect each other — that’s the message. You still want to take care of Grandma or Mom and Dad. We talk about less severe (COVID-19 symptoms), but 30- and 40-year-olds weren’t necessarily less severe. It’s not like we didn’t see hospitalization among people in those age groups. … We still want to see those 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds, 50-year-olds come out and get vaccinated and we’ll all get back to normal as soon as possible,” he said.

Rhome said an upcoming clinic is set for 9 a.m. to noon May 7 at Sally Buffalo Park, where students and residents age 16 and older will be able to receive the vaccine. He said the department will be receiving an allotment of the Pfizer vaccine, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to become vaccinated.

The health department has experienced around a 10 percent “no-show” rate at its clinics for both first and second doses.

“It’s been challenging, but we’ve stood up to it,” he said.

Many times with the first dose, residents do not show up to their appointment because they have scheduled at more than one location, Rhome said. Those who miss second doses may choose not to get the second shot because they experienced symptoms after receiving the first dose, he said. However, allowing walk-ins has helped fill the time slots when people do not show up for their appointment, he said.

The county health department administered around 260 vaccine doses last week, the majority of which were second doses. Rhome said a little more than 30 people were walk-ins and received their first dose. He said two more “walk-in” clinics are planned in the coming weeks where residents can simply drive to the clinic without an appointment and receive their vaccination.

“We’ve got the paperwork, you don’t have to be registered or be pre-scheduled; just show up and get the dose,” he said. “It’s another avenue of finding people that are interested in the vaccine, but for whatever reason — their schedule, the scheduling system — whatever their hesitancy was, they are excited to show up on that day and get vaccinated, and that’s great.”

The upcoming clinics are set for May 7 and 13 when around 250 doses will be available between the two dates. An evening “walk-in” clinic is set for 4-6 p.m. May 13 at Sally Buffalo Park.

“If it’s convenient for you that day, after work or on your lunch break, you don’t need to pre-schedule or pre-register or anything like that. Just show up to our line. We get through it pretty quick,” he said.

Rhome said the wait time for the clinics is minimal now that the county has had four months of experience administering the vaccines. Residents are pleased with how quick and organized the clinics have been, he added.

The county moved back to risk Level 2, the orange category, on the four-tiered Ohio Public Health Advisory System late last week after being in the yellow category and least serious designation for only a week. Last Thursday, the county flagged two indicators on the color-coded map including having a percentage of cases in non-congregate settings and having 50 cases per 100,000 population.

Rhome said the county’s case numbers have been declining since then. He said there have been multiple days this past week where the department recorded zero new cases. The county must have less than eight cases in the 14-day time period in order to drop one of the indicators and allow it to move back to the yellow category on the advisory system.

“It will depend if some cases drop off. Those zeroes in the last few days certainly move us toward that lowest level of flagging one indicator,” he said.

Rhome also said the county has not had any hospitalization in the past few months.

As of Wednesday, the county has confirmed a total of 1,080 cases, 1,049 recoveries, 24 deaths and seven active cases.

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