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Reports: Clinton County has one of lowest vax rates in state

LOCK HAVEN — As Pennsylvania rolls out a multitude of vaccines in vast numbers statewide, Clinton County is ranked as one of the lowest counties in total vaccinated thus far.

Clinton County is sitting at 14.92% of its population totally vaccinated. That’s about 5,831 out of 39,074 county residents vaccinated.

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, saying Clinton County doesn’t have a go-to vaccine destination for the mass public, outside of UPMC’s efforts.

“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 hundreds 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.

Over the weekend, the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State became a mass vaccination destination for the public in Centre County.

“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 commented on the growing concern within Lycoming County, which is 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 stated.

Geisinger Medical Center’s media relations specialist Marc Stempka 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 the age of 30 to 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,” he said.

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.

Dr. Stanley Martin, Geisinger director of infectious diseases, stated:

“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.”

“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,” he continued.

“No matter which one you get, all three available vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness and death from 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.”

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