Middle age demographic declining COVID-19 vaccine in Belmont County

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Fewer people are electing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but doses are still available.

Belmont County Deputy Health Commissioner Robert Sproul said people vaccinated in Belmont County are overwhelmingly senior citizens who are more vulnerable to death or long-term conditions from the coronavirus. Sproul said a relatively high number of younger people who are more active socially, and thus more likely to spread the virus, also have received the shots.

This leaves a less-motivated middle demographic.

“On May 3 we had 24 positives. Nobody was under the age of 16, and we only had three above age 60 that were positives. The rest of them were in the middle, with the average age of about 42.

Again, that’s who we’re not seeing coming through the clinics, the middle group.

“The older population, we’re seeing seniors, they’re coming out and getting the shots. It’s benefiting them because the senior centers are opening. A lot of things are moving forward,” Sproul said. “The seniors were the most adversely affected by this COVID.”

In April, Senior Services Director Dwayne Pielech announced his intention to begin scheduling events at the county’s 10 senior centers, with openings to follow.

Younger vaccine recipients have expressed excitement about travel, concerts and other activities during the summer months.

“The 16-21 group of college and high school kids are getting the shot, which is good because they’re getting the benefit. If they’re vaccinated, they can’t be quarantined if they’re around a positive, so again they would not be quarantined from sporting events if someone was positive there if they had received both of their shots,” Sproul said.

“Those groups are seeing the benefits of it. It’s the middle age group that is a little more reluctant to come out,” Sproul continued. “We’re hoping that changes. … A lot of people feel they’re healthy enough and their immune system can take care of it, and they don’t see it being an issue.”

Sproul said there is still a danger of spreading COVID-19 to younger children who are unable to be vaccinated or people with health conditions who may have obstacles to receiving a vaccine.

“You could carry it to them,” he said. “Even healthy people, they’re developing long-term effects — long-haulers that are getting COVID effects and that are staying with them, breathing, heart, etc. They’re thinking, ‘It’s not going to kill me.’ But is it going to cause long-term health effects?”

Meanwhile, Sproul said his department continues to hold shot clinics in school districts, with a clinic scheduled for Friday at Bridgeport Exempted Village Schools.

“We’ll be at the mall (today). From 9 a.m. to noon will be second doses, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for first doses. It’ll be a walk-up for everyone,” Sproul said.

Sproul reported a total of 6,189 cases have been confirmed in the county since the pandemic’s onset, with 292 people in isolation at home or hospitalized with active infections. Another 5,781 people have recovered, but 116 residents have died after being infected with the virus.


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