ACCHD sees slight increase in student vaccinations against COVID-19 due to university mandate

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Athens City-County Department of Health, or ACCHD, saw small increase in COVID-19 vaccination rates for students after Ohio University announced its vaccine requirement as well as nationwide approval of booster injections for certain groups.

Since January, the ACCHD has been managing intermittent clinics in partnership with OU on Heritage roomsaid Ruth Dudding, director of community health and engagement in the health department. Dudding said the ACCHD is once again holding weekly clinics at Heritage Hall due to the university’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement and the approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, of ​​injections of reminder. She said the number of people coming to the clinics is varied.

James Gaskell, ACCHD’s health commissioner, said the health department typically performs 70 to 100 vaccinations at its weekly clinics at Heritage Hall. Gaskell said he mainly sees students and allows walk-in tours.

He also does COVID-19 vaccinations at the health department on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and sees around 30 to 40 people on those days. He said that since OU announced the vaccine’s mandate, ACCHD has seen a small increase in student vaccinations.

“We haven’t seen tons of students yet, but there are definitely students coming in,” Dudding said.

Dudding described student participation as “no rush,” and ACCHD expects to see more students as the OU’s Nov. 15 immunization deadline approaches.

Gaskell believes the health department hasn’t seen many students in part because most of them are already vaccinated. As of October 1, the OU reported that 79.9% of students living on campus were vaccinated and 69.8% of those living off campus were vaccinated.

“Since you all live close to each other… you probably need an 80% vaccination rate in order to provide herd immunity,” Gaskell said.

In general, the ACCHD does fewer vaccinations than at the start of the pandemic. Dudding said he was making up to 800 or 1,000 per clinic around January.

“Most of the people who really, really wanted to get vaccinated got vaccinated,” Dudding said. “We’re back here at Heritage Hall because there is a little boost in the number of people wanting to be vaccinated with the booster becoming available (and) with the university requiring the vaccine.”

Crystal Jones, public health nurse at the Department of Health, said another reason ACCHD is making fewer vaccines is that more health care providers have the vaccine now than at the start of the pandemic.

On September 24, the CDC released a declaration saying that people 65 or older and those 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions should receive a third injection of Pfizer.

The ACCHD began giving booster shots to anyone who met the new CDC recommendations the week after the announcement. Jones reported giving 220 booster shots at the October 1 clinic.

Among the recipients, Harold Watkins, a retired man, said he felt a lot safer now that he had the third shot.

“They’re really effective here,” Watkins said. “This is our third shot here, and they’ve really stepped up and done a good job.”

@ DonovanHunt9

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