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Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition and ‘Let’s End COVID’ encourage vaccination ahead of July 4

The time is now to get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Barbara Hemmendinger, a member of both Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition and Williamsport’s “Let’s End COVID.”

Hemmendinger said last week, the country reached 600,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and that around 100,000 of Americans died during February of this year–following when vaccines had begun to be deployed.

Hemmendinger said that whatever people are waiting for to receive the vaccination, the time has come.

“American lives will be saved; those who are sick in hospital are almost entirely the unvaccinated,” Hemmendinger said.

This information comes alongside growing concerns over the COVID-19 Delta variant’s spread in the United States.

“People will catch it more readily and get more sick than it. While two doses of vaccine are preventative, if people are not fully immunized, that’s a concern,” Hemmendinger said.

Hemmendinger said while she does not want to discourage people from getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have demonstrated they appear to be more protective against the Delta Variant than the Johnson & Johnson in preliminary studies.

Even those who have previously had COVID-19 should get vaccinated, according to Hemmendinger. Immunization provides better protection against newer variants of COVID-19 than any natural immunity.

“If you had COVID earlier on, you probably had a case related to the original virus. Now that we have new variants, the new vaccine is probably better for protecting you from a new variant than a natural immunity is,” Hemmendinger said.

“Get the facts, get the shot and be reassured,” Hemmendinger said.

Finally, Hemmendinger said the American Medical Association has released the results of a survey taken by United States physicians June 3-8 that indicated more than 96 percent of respondents had been fully vaccinated.

Of the U.S. physicians who have not yet been vaccinated, 45 percent said they intend to.

“With COVID-19 vaccines readily available and approved for all people 12-years-old and up, we urged you to get vaccinated,” AMA President Susan R. Bailey said. “Take the single most important step you can to protect yourself, your family and end the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Hemmendinger indicated this rate is consistent even among communities with low average vaccination rates.

“That’s an indication of leading by example,” Hemmendinger said.

As of Thursday last week, Hemmendinger expects that the United States will miss its goal of having 70 percent of its adults receive one vaccination. Nationally, 65 percent has received one vaccination, but in Lycoming County, 54 percent have done so.

“We can do more here in north central Pennsylvania!” Hemmendinger said.

Pennsylvania is 48 percent fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, which leads the nation average of 45.1 percent. However, Lycoming County is behind that curve at 38.9 percent of its population vaccinated.

Lycoming County ranks higher than its neighbor, Clinton County, which reports only 32.4 percent of its population is vaccinated. However, Union County eclipses Lycoming with a rate of 42.7 percent vaccinated.

Hemmendinger noted several upcoming community vaccination clinics members of the public can receive the vaccine from.

On June 25 and 28, Lock Haven University will host a clinic for children 12 and older between noon and 4 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center parking lot to distribute Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines.

Those who receive the Pfizer vaccine will need to receive their second July 19. Kids 12 to 17 may only receive the Pfizer vaccine, and on-site parental consent is required.

Additionally, vaccines will be offered at the Sojourner’s Health Fair on 501 High St. in Williamsport on June 25, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Ebenezer Baptist Church, at 527 Park Ave., Williamsport, will offer vaccines 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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