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Health board: More seniors 80 and up in need of vaccination

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The percentage of unvaccinated Belmont County residents — particularly those in the COVID-19-vulnerable demographic of 80 years old and older — was a topic of concern for the Belmont County Health Board during its Monday meeting.

Deputy Health Commissioner Robert Sproul said according to reports from the state, 32.15 percent of Belmont County residents are vaccinated; statewide the percentage is 46.64.

Board member Irene Louda pointed out demographic statistics, noting a high proportion of seniors have opted for vaccination, but the percentage drops among those younger than 50.

“If you compare that with the state, we are pretty consistent,” Sproul said.

He said 38.82 percent of residents 50-59 are vaccinated and 53.68 percent of those 60-64; 65.73 percent of residents 65-69 years of age have received the shots, along with 74.18 percent of those 70-74 and 72.18 percent of those 75-79. But only 66.63 percent of those 80 and older are vaccinated.

“The difference of the 80-plus is surprising,” Louda said. “It seems like we had a huge percentage of 80-plus at our clinic, and I’m surprised we’re so poor at that. Is there not any specific way we can target some of those particular groups?

“It seems like the 80-plus should be an easy way to go through either senior services or something?”

Board members noted the senior centers only recently reopened. Sproul added that initially pharmacies were tasked with reaching out to nursing homes, not the health departments. The health department has since reached out to area nursing homes and churches.

“Belmont County is not even equal to the state, and certainly not national,” Louda said.

Meanwhile, vaccines are being offered to the public.

“We are continuing to hold new clinics. We’ve got all this week,” Sproul said.

On Monday, a clinic was open at the Belmont and Barnesville fire departments. From 1-7 p.m. today, the health department will hold a clinic at 68501 Bannock-Uniontown Road. From 10 a.m. until noon Wednesday the Salvation Army in Bellaire will host a clinic, and from 2-4 p.m. a clinic will be held at Continuing Healthcare of Shadyside, The health department will administer shots from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at its headquarters, and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Ohio Valley Mall Community Room will host a clinic.

“Numbers have been down a little bit, but we’re still getting shots out. I think the state wants us to keep pushing. (Johnson & Johnson) and some of the other vaccines are starting to come to the end of their shelf life,” Sprould said.

Sproul also reported septic backup issues at the health department site that may complicate vaccination clinics. The board has often said newer, more spacious facilities are needed.

According to coronavirus.ohio.gov, Belmont County has had a total of 6,149 cases since the pandemic began, with 5,921 recoveries and 174 people have died after being infected.

In Monroe County there have been 1,361 cases with 1,299 recoveries and 44 people have died after infection.

Jefferson County has had 5,669 cases and 5,502 recoveries, and 158 deaths are associated with the virus.

In Harrison County there have been 1,137 cases, with 1,085 recoveries and 38 deaths associated.

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