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Lining up for COVID vaccines

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK People line up for their second COVID-19 shot outside the Ohio Valley Mall on Thursday.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The number of people receiving a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is climbing in Belmont County, with Deputy Health Commissioner Robert Sproul reporting a total of 14,000 shots administered.

Sproul said the majority of vaccinations were the Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech version, which requires two doses about a month apart. Use of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson version has been discontinued for study after reports of blood clotting issues.

During Thursday’s vaccination clinic, a line of people awaiting their second COVID-19 shot formed outside the Ohio Valley Mall when health department staff went to lunch.

There were 800 second doses to be administered at the clinic, and 300 first doses available.

Some of those waiting for shots said they have felt personal or societal pressure to be vaccinated. Barb Godwin of St. Clairsville said she enjoys traveling out of the country and voiced concern this could be curtailed for unvaccinated people.

“I like to travel, and they may be insisting on a travel vaccine (passport),” Godwin said. “I wasn’t going to get one until they started about restricting travel, so that’s my main reason. … For me, it’s been rather easy because I continued to work through it, because I work at an essential business. I did have some soreness in my arm after my first shot, so this will be my second one. I’ve been lucky.”

Sproul mentioned some vacation destinations are considering requiring proof of vaccination.

Other at the mall were more enthusiastic.

“I just want to get vaccinated so I can start living my life again. I just want to be able to be safe, to keep my kids safe, my grandkids safe. I just want to live life,” Deb Ernest of Bellaire said. “I live in a senior center and they’re all vaccinated there, and I was kind of in the middle of the age group. I just want to be safe. I want us to get back to normal.

“We’re going to have a big family vacation this year, and I’m excited for us all to be together. I just met up with a bunch of coworkers a couple of nights ago. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and it was like a big family reunion. It was wonderful, and we’re all vaccinated,” she said, adding the last year has been difficult.

“We’ve had a lot of losses in the family, not due to COVID in particular, but you can’t be at funerals, you can’t be at weddings, and it’s just ugly. It’s not a good time, and we all need to be together and come together, and this’ll help,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sproul is working with the city of Martins Ferry to hold a vaccination clinic in that community. Police Chief John McFarland said he has been in contact with staff at the health department and has suggested the site of the former Staffilino Chevrolet.

“Hopefully they start that process and make that available for the people closer down here to the east side of Belmont County,” McFarland said.

Sproul reported there have been 5,981 total cases with 292 people now isolated at home with active cases or hospitalized. There have been 5,573 recoveries, and 116 residents have died after being infected. The latest death — a man in his 80s — was announced Thursday.

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