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Vaccinate NEPA: Wilkes-Barre Health Dept. administers vaccines to housing authority residents

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — It’s been months since people 65 and older became eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, but making an appointment has been an exercise in frustration for many seniors.

Organizers teamed up to solve that problem for hundreds of people on Tuesday.

The biggest obstacle for many seniors to schedule a COVID vaccine appointment has been transportation. It’s why organizers are bringing the shots directly to hundreds of those tenants living in public housing in Luzerne County.

81-year-old Ruth Davis has been ready for her COVID shot for three months but living at Lincoln Plaza, she struggled to find transportation to a clinic.

“I said I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Davis told Eyewitness News.

Wilkes-Barre Housing Authority and Wilkes-Barre City Health Department solved that.

They held a vaccine clinic in the community room of the high rise for Davis and other residents and staffers who wanted a shot.

“The goal is to vaccinate every person in the city, in the state, in the country. And to do that, we need to go to where they are at,” said Delphine Torbik, associate director of personal health with the Wilkes-Barre City Health Department.

Unlike mass vaccination-style clinics Pennsylvania has relied on in recent weeks to ramp up vaccination numbers, this scaled-down clinic is still vital. It offers the vaccine to seniors, disabled and low-income residents who have great difficulty finding the shot and are vulnerable to the virus.

Finally getting the vaccine is a relief to 82-year-old Daisy Flores.

“I’m glad because I think I need it and I think other ones need it, too,” she said.

“I couldn’t get her on a list anywhere. It didn’t matter where I clicked. And we are lucky today that they had this going on here where she lives,” said Flores’ daughter, Mickey Weitoysh.

Wilkes-Barre Housing Authority oversees a half-dozen public housing properties which combined make up 861 units. The properties have not been immune to COVID-19.

“That is correct but, you know, we’ve been very fortunate to keep things under control as much as we can. We’ve been very proactive about cleaning, sanitizing,” said Judy Kosloski, executive director of Wilkes-Barre Housing Authority.

And now vaccinating.

“Get the shot regardless and get it taken care of afterwards if you have no allergic reaction to it. Get it,” said Davis.

Nearly five dozen tenants were vaccinated at Lincoln Plaza. Shots were also given today at East End Towers and South View Manor. Everyone vaccinated will receive their second dose in four weeks.

Wilkes-Barre Housing Authority will hold a vaccine clinic next Tuesday, April 13, at Valley View Terrace and then on April 20 at Boulevard Townhomes and Mineral Springs Village. 

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