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Organizations teaming up to vaccinate rural PA

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SHAMOKIN, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s a team effort in rural parts of Central and Northeast Pennsylvania to help get PA closer to herd immunity.

Complaints and concerns were brought to light and different organizations are jumping in to help get vaccines and appointments to those in less populated areas.

This week the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way is working with Custom Care Pharmacy, the Northumberland Area Agency on Aging, and Central Susquehanna Opportunities.

Roughly 150 first doses of the Moderna vaccine were administered Tuesday in Sunbury. The goal is another 350 in Shamokin, but as Joanne Troutman from the United Way says, that won’t come without a challenge.

“Fortunately, we are starting to see that there’s a lot more availability and appointments are becoming available across our region. The challenge still is, I think, that people are still a little confused on how to secure an appointment.”

These organizations are taking best practices from neighboring counties and really hitting the ground running when it comes to reaching out to those who are having difficulties navigating the appointment process.

“I really didn’t want to get it, but I worked at a university and with students, I thought I’d better get it and I told her with her being older, she’s together. Her doctor said,” Deb Mummey of Sunbury said.

Mummy took advantage of the partnership between the Susquehanna Valley United Way, the Northumberland Agency on Aging, and other organizations, to get her vaccine in Sunbury on Tuesday. Thursday, she brought her mother along — both getting past some vaccine hesitancy and issues booking an appointment.

“I think it’s great that you can get the free shot and it doesn’t take much to just make the phone call and they’re really helpful,” said Mummy.

Helping administer those vaccines, were students from Luzerne County Community College, and the Geisinger Anesthesia Program from Bloomsburg University.

“It is one of our top priorities in our program is to do community service, so they were all excited about coming,” said Debra Minzola, the program director of anesthesiology, Geisinger at Bloomsburg University.

Many of those students helping to administer the shot are also locals. They understand the uphill battles that have existed, which includes trying to vaccinate these rural communities.

“It gets a lot of people and opportunities we don’t have the time and the resources to drive to a more populated area,” said Matt Homishak, a student volunteer.

“As more people get it and more people know somebody that has done it and hasn’t had you know a bad reaction or any problems, that kind of puts them at ease a little bit more to get it,” Jamie Long, also a student volunteer, said.

The registration closed Wednesday night but residents in the Shamokin area may be able to register for a waitlist on their website.

There is an expectation for a reasonable amount of no-shows and these partnering organizations aren’t trying to let any of this Moderna vaccine go to waste.

For more information on where you can obtain a vaccine, head over to our Vaccinate NEPA page.

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