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Clinton County one of lowest in total vaccinations

LOCK HAVEN — As Pennsylvania rolls out a multitude of vaccines in an effort to diminish the never ending tirade that the virus has had on the U.S., Clinton County is ranked as one of the lowest counties in total vaccinated in the state.

So far, Clinton County is sitting at 14.92% of its population totally vaccinated.

That is a mere 5,831 out of 39,074 county residents.

When compared to surrounding counties, Clinton County is toward the bottom, along with Potter County with only 9.72% or 1,646 out of 16,967 people totally vaccinated.

Other counties such as Cameron and Clearfield are sitting at the top of the list, with around 20% totally vaccinated by population, give or take.

Clinton County Commissioner Miles Kessinger commented on the low percentage of vaccinations.

He said that Clinton County does not currently have a go-to vaccine destination for the mass public, outside of the efforts that UPMC has been committing to.

“Although we do not have a specific vaccine destination in Clinton County, we are lucky to have UPMC at the Dunnstown Fire Hall vaccinating 600-800 residents at a time every Wednesday. Jersey Shore Hospital is doing 100s a day,” Kessinger said.

“We had our emergency services organization talking with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and we were in line to set up a community center in Clinton County, but they decided to give it to Centre County instead,” he said.

Beginning yesterday, the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State has become a mass vaccination destination for the public in Centre County. It could be the answer that residents of Clinton County need in order to combat the chances of getting infected.

“We are lucky that the one in Centre County at the BJC is only a half an hour away. It upsets us to no end that rural Pennsylvania does not exist as far as the Department of Health is concerned,” Kessinger expressed.

“We found out this week that the Lock Haven CVS was giving vaccines. We didn’t even know about it since it was never publicized,” Kessinger said.

Lycoming County Commissioner Rick Mirabito also gave his personal thoughts on the growing concern within Lycoming County, which is also dealing with similar issues.

“I am disappointed to learn that Lycoming County is lagging behind the state in the number of individuals who have received vaccinations. Clearly, there are many individuals in our county who would benefit from having an education campaign, such as the one proposed by Let’s End Covid (at a recent commissioners meeting). If we do not reach a certain percentage of vaccinations in our community, we may not reach the herd immunity and we could risk slipping back to a level of exposures that requires closures,” he clarified.

Geisinger Medical Center’s media relations specialist Marc Stempca said over the past two weeks 13% of all COVID-19 tests at Geisinger have been positive, which is up from about 8% in early March and on par with late October when the winter surge was beginning.

“Those who are age of 30-59 are making up the highest number of positive tests. The majority of inpatients with COVID-19 — 56% — were under the age of 65. We’ve tested 428 patients from Clinton County, of which 70 were positive, making about a 20% positivity rate,” explained Stempca.

So far, Geisinger has provided 6,469 vaccine doses to people in Clinton County with about 80% of those going to people over the age of 60, said Stempca.

System director of infectious diseases at Geisinger, Dr. Stanley Martin gave this statement regarding the rise of positive tests as well as getting the vaccine.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and evidence of community spread in recent weeks. This is concerning and shows that we can’t let our guard down against this virus. We must continue following preventive measures — like masking, physical distancing and good hand hygiene — and getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you’re able,” urged Martin.

“It’s important to get the vaccine because the more people we have vaccinated, the harder it is for the virus to spread and mutate. No matter which one you get, all three available vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness and death from of COVID-19. The best COVID-19 vaccine for you is the one that’s available to you. If you have questions about getting the vaccine, you can always check with your family doctor and discuss those. We can get past the pandemic, and the vaccine is an important part of how we do that,” he explained.

Due to the rising positive test rates, Geisinger urges people to set up appointments to get vaccinated.

The Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital vaccine center remains open, with appointments available, Stempca ssid.

People can schedule an appointment through myGeisinger or by calling (570) 284-3657 and can also fill out an appointment request form at www.geisinger.org/COVIDvax.

Percentages of residents totally vaccinated in area counties follows: Clinton – 14.92%; Cameron – 23.90%; Centre – 18.83%; Clearfield – 18.97%; Lycoming – 17.34%; Potter – 9.72%; Union – 15.31%.

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