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Message clear ­— get vaccinated

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a simple reminder to area residents during Monday’s visit to Steubenville:

Get your COVID-19 vaccination.

DeWine and his wife, Fran, stopped at the Jefferson County Health Department’s vaccination clinic inside the Fort Steuben Mall as part of their tour of the state. It was the 32nd clinic they have visited during the past several weeks.

All of the stops serve several purposes. First, they allow the governor to see firsthand how the process of vaccinating Ohioans is progressing. Second, they give the governor the opportunity to personally thank the officials and medical personal who are making sure those procedures are working smoothly.

They also are a reminder that while there has been a lot of progress made in the fight against the coronavirus, there are troubling signs around us that the number of infections is starting to go up again.

That means this is no time to let our guard down. Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 36.8 percent of the U.S. population — that’s nearly 121 million people — have received at least one dose of the coronovirus vaccine, and about 22 percent of the population — about 74 million people — have completed the vaccination process.

In Jefferson County, according to health Commissioner Andrew Henry, about 30 percent of those eligible have received the vaccine, which is below Ohio’s statewide total of 35 percent.

The availability of vaccine is increasing, the governor said, and anyone who is 16 or older who wants to receive it should be able to.

Some pharmacies and other locations, in fact, are able to accept walk-ins on a daily basis. Ohio’s system has proven so efficient, in fact, that residents of Western Pennsylvania and the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia also have been able to receive doses of the vaccine in the Buckeye State.

And, the governor reminded, anyone who has concerns about getting the vaccine should consult with her or his doctor.

In the meantime, it’s important to remember that we still need to follow safety protocols, which include practicing social distancing and wearing a mask.

And, if you have not yet, get your vaccination.

It’s the ticket, DeWine explained, to getting out of the pandemic sooner than later and being able to do the things we look forward to — whether it’s participating in sports, attending a Pirates or a Penguins game or just being able to freely socialize with friends and family.

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