Hesitancy remains an obstacle in national, PA’s race to vaccinate

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WILKES-BARRE, LUXERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Half of the eligible Americans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but vaccine hesitancy is still a nationwide issue and an issue at the fore-front of efforts in the keystone state.

When you take a look at Pennsylvania’s vaccine rollout the supply is up appointments, easier to get than ever before, but when you take a look at the CDC numbers. What does this tell us?

More than 5.5 million Pennsylvanians have had at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, which is 43% of eligible adults. About 26% or just over 3.3 million Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated.

One of the biggest things we’re hearing from Harrisburg is the fight against vaccine hesitancy.

“The idea that there is an issue of hesitancy has been with us right from the beginning,” said Governor Tom Wolf.

As the Johnson & Johnson vaccine remains on pause state efforts to designate it for agriculture workers and corrections staff is also on hold.

“We’re already building contingency plans, so if there is an extended pause on Johnson and Johnson, how we’re going to be able to still fulfill that obligation. And that commitment to those populations, but using the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines,” said Alison Beam, acting secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Some hesitancy still lies within communities who have distrust and as Governor Wolf said Friday, not everybody wants to hear it from him.

“We found out from listening to our stakeholders and listening to the public that the messenger is as, as important as the message,” said Denise Johnson, M.D., Pennsylvania physician general.

Beam says they’re looking back to nursing facilities as a marker. She noted 57% of the keystone state’s skilled nurses are choosing to get the vaccine.

“Well that’s better than the national median of 37% of skilled nursing facility staff that evidence is how far we have to go and how much of a challenge, overcoming the vaccine hesitancy will be in the near future,” said Beam.

Now those down in Harrisburg are going to have to focus on way more than just skilled nursing facilities to fight that vaccine hesitancy, as the state tries to get to what medical experts have been telling us we’ve been aiming for all along that herd immunity.

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