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‘Excited To Help’

Vaccine meets 200 arms in clinic

Times Observer photos by Brian Ferry Above, Ken Lester of Warren receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, his second, from Gaughn’s Drug Store Clinical Coordinator Justin Scholl during a clinic Wednesday at Allegheny Community Center. Below, A patient at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic hosted by Experience Inc. and Gaughn’s Drug Store receives a second dose of vaccine.

About 100 second doses and 100 first doses were administered in Warren on Wednesday.

A clinic hosted by Experience Inc. Warren-Forest Counties Area Agency on Aging and Gaughn’s Drug Store at the Allegheny Community Center brought the COVID-19 vaccine to 200 Warren County arms.

In the morning, a little over 100 people received their first vaccines. In the afternoon a similar number received second shots – bringing them to full vaccination.

According to Experience Inc. Executive Director Danell Sowers, those seniors who received second doses at the clinic were the first to do so that were signed up with the help of Experience.

Still, there is a long way to go, with thousands of county residents waiting.

“I know there are a lot of seniors wondering when it’s their turn,” Sowers said. “We’re trying to make sure we answer those questions and to be as understanding as we can.”

In addition to helping seniors with the registration process, Experience is providing a venue for vaccine clinics.

“Whenever vaccine is available, we’ll continue to host clinics,” she said. “We’re really excited to help.”

The state department of health is focusing on getting second doses out to its vaccine partners.

In January and February, communication problems led to about 200,000 people in the state receiving their first dose of the Moderna vaccine – the one generally available in Warren County – when those doses should have been given to people waiting for second doses.

While the medicine and the amount is the same from first to second dose, there is a timing requirement for second doses – they should be given four to six weeks after the first dose.

The state has been sending out more doses intended as second doses to make sure those who need second doses get them within the six-week time frame.

Gaughn’s Owner Pharmacist Scott Newton said he expects 200 doses next week, “which will get us back on track” for the second doses. Some local patients have had their second dose pushed back to five weeks after their first, still well within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

The second doses administered on Wednesday were at the four-week mark.

Among next week’s clinics will be patients pushed back to five weeks, he said.

Gaughn’s has been running clinics one to two times a week, depending on how much vaccine is delivered and when it arrives.

According to the latest numbers from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there have been 2,394 county residents fully covered with both doses of the vaccine and another 2,381 who have received the first dose. That data does not reflect Wednesday’s clinic.

JOHNSON AND JOHNSON

A one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the weekend.

Pennsylvania expects to receive about 125,000 doses next week.

Those doses will be going to teachers and education workers.

“In consultation with the Department of Health and the Department of Education, we’ve all decided to recommend that this Johnson and Johnson stream go to our teachers and school employees… so that we can get our children back to in-person classrooms,” Wolf said in a press briefing on Wednesday. “As a one-dose vaccine, it’s an advantage. We can do this more quickly. Our goal is to offer every public and private school worker the vaccine.”

Before dramatic changes were made to Phase 1A in mid-January, Warren County prepared to move into Phase 1B by scheduling clinics for educators. The county’s educators, who opted in, have already been vaccinated, so there may not be much Johnson and Johnson vaccine flowing into the county.

That will not impact the distribution of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, Wolf said. “Our vaccine roll-out to the rest of the population will be unaffected. Moderna and Pfizer will see an increase in this week. Everyone who is eligible under Phase 1A remains eligible.”

There will continue to be delays.

“The supply of vaccine still isn’t up to the demand,” Wolf said. He admitted the state’s rate of pushing out vaccine is not 100 percent. “Even if we were doing a perfect job, there wouldn’t be enough vaccine.”

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“The president said he is hopeful that everyone who wants a vaccine can get one by the end of the May,” Wolf said. “We’re working on that. We would love to be in line with that.”

The governor also announced that the National Guard would be involved in vaccination efforts.

Wolf signed a bill introduced by Rep. Timothy O’Neal (R-48) on Wednesday.

O’Neal, who served in the National Guard, spoke during the briefing. “Vaccinating our teachers and opening our schools back up is something that everybody wants,” he said. “Our Guard is the perfect group to run this mission of vaccinating our teachers.”

COVID UPDATE

There were three new cases of COVID-19 in Warren County and no new deaths reported by the department of health on Wednesday.

The number of new cases is much more in line with those of recent weeks than the 20 new cases announced by the department on Tuesday.

There have been a total of 2,189 cases, 1,773 confirmed and 416 probables, in the county so far.

The number of COVID-related deaths remained at 98.

There was no change in the statistics for Warren General Hospital from Tuesday to Wednesday. There were two COVID-positive patients in the hospital, neither on ventilators nor in intensive care, according to the department.

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