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Department of Health taking a new approach to getting more Pennsylvanians vaccinated

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania ranks fifth among all 50 states for the number of COVID vaccines administered in the country. But, state health officials say more needs to be done. They announced Thursday they plan to help boost the number of fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians.

That plan targets a large group of individuals who already rolled up their sleeves once for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Health officials want those Pennsylvanians to get their second dose.

“You need to be fully vaccinated to have maximum protection,” said acting Secretary, Alison Beam, Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). With that message in mind, the department of health is launching a second COVID vaccine dose reminder text campaign early next week.

“If you missed your second dose, there is still time. Get it now. There is no excuse and there is no time to lose,” Beam said.

The texting campaign announcement comes amid rising COVID cases. In the commonwealth, we have been near or above 1,000 a day much of this week and fueled by the highly contagious delta variant.

“Especially as the delta variant is spreading as we know, one dose does not give you that full protection. You need to get both doses so we urge you to get that,” Dr. Denise Johnson, Pennsylvania acting physician general said.

Wilkes-Barre City Health Department has been administering dozens of doses of COVID vaccine weekly at the farmers market on Public Square.

“We try to get out there into the community at different events so that we try to make sure that we’re getting to different neighborhoods so that there’s equitable distribution of the vaccines as well,” said Kady Luchetti, RN, Community Health nurse, Wilkes-Barre City Health Department.

Getting more than a quarter-million Pennsylvanians who still need their second dose to be fully vaccinated will help, but there are still millions of others who are eligible for the vaccine and have taken a hardline against it, or are hesitant.

Maria Meyer has shied away from the shot even though she says members of her family were sickened by COVID.

“We’re very on the fence about getting vaccinated or not. If we were going to do it, I would do it for them,” said Meyer.

Eyewitness News asked Secretary Beam what message she has for those eligible, to get the vaccine but still haven’t.

“We’ve been guiding folks to their clinicians. 96 percent of physicians have gotten vaccinated and we have always advised that folks speak with their clinician to really have that informed conversation, specific to them,” said Beam.

Secretary Beam added it’s important to get eligible children vaccinated as we wait for vaccine eligibility to expand to kids younger than 12. She also said it’s important to get eligible children vaccinated as we wait for eligibility, to expand to kids younger than 12.

She says the focus will later shift to a potential booster shot if and when the time comes, but for now, emphasis is on getting those who can; get fully vaccinated.

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