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Vaccination clinic stays busy

TURNING OUT — Area residents turned out Wednesday for the first of eight mobile vaccination clinics in Jefferson County. Some 420 people were administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at Steubenville’s Seventh Street Plaza. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — More than 400 people rolled up their sleeves Wednesday to get vaccinated against the coronavirus at Jefferson County’s mobile clinic at the Seventh Street Plaza.

Health District Director Andrew Henry said the response was even better than they’d anticipated.

“We were very pleased with the turnout,” he said. “All 420 of our slots were filled. Due to high demand, we had to turn some folks away. However, they are more than welcome to attend any of the other mobile clinics.”

Henry said there were already two people in line when he arrived to help set up tents and tables. By 9:30 a.m., about 30 minutes after the clinic started, about 50 people were waiting for their shot at the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

He called that a “good sign.”

“These mobile clinics are meant for vulnerable folks who maybe don’t have transportation or can only commit to one shot,” he said.

That would include Delores Shaffer, 74, of Brilliant, who had to catch a ride with Prime Time to get to a vaccination site, but she said it was worth it.

“I had COVID in December,” she said. “It was a mild case, but I had it, the thing I didn’t want to happen to me. I was only sick for four days but I was so sick. It’s scary when you get to be my age and you get sick.”

Shaffer said she doesn’t want any part of having to go on a ventilator as so many other COVID patients have had to. She also said the strong turnout was an indication of how badly people wanted to be protected against it.

“I’m very blessed I’m here today,” she said. “I thank God for that.”

Torchee Smith, a Wintersville resident, said she’d had an errand to run in Weirton and on the way back decided it made sense to stop at the clinic.

“I just wanted vaccinated because I think it’s necessary,” she said, adding, “I’m also happy to see people of color here who are taking advantage (of the opportunity). See my mask? It says ‘faith over fear.’ I have relatives who won’t take the shot, that’s just silly to me. I don’t know where all the fear comes from.”

While she’s had opportunities to get other vaccines — the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have also been offered in the area — Smith said she really wanted the J&J shot because “I don’t do well with keeping medical appointments.”

Henry said additional clinics will be held:

– 9 a.m-4 p.m. April 21 at the Seventh Street Plaza in downtown Steubenville

– 9 a.m.-4 p.m. April 10 and 24 at the Karaffa Recreation Center in Toronto

– 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 14 and 28 at Buckeye Local High School

– 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 17 and May 1 at Edison High School

The Moderna two-shot series is also offered twice a week at the Fort Steuben mall.

Henry advises residents to preregister online at https://gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. The advantage to preregistering, he said, is that those people won’t have to wait in line.

“While walk-ups are always welcome, pre-booking is ideal as it allows us to plan better,” Henry said.

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