Erie, PA – Governor Tom Wolf toured a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie that is operated by the Erie County Department of Health and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) Institute for Successful Aging. The governor discussed the state’s vaccination effort and reminded all Pennsylvanians the vaccine is available, free and safe.
“We are making great progress and nearly half of all eligible Pennsylvanians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.” said Gov. Wolf. “It’s important that we keep making steady progress, because as more Pennsylvanians get vaccinated, we all get safer. If you’re planning to go home at the end of the semester, or for a long-awaited summer vacation, or even just for a family get-together, you should make plans now to get vaccinated. Don’t wait.
“That vaccination will not only protect you, but it will also protect your family and your community, and it will help our commonwealth recover from this pandemic a little bit faster.”
The governor was joined by Rep. Bob Merski, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County Department of Health director Melissa Lyon and Dr. Annette V. Wagner of OB/GYN Associates of Erie for the tour and press conference.
“Each day that more people get vaccinated, we move closer to returning to normalcy,” said Rep. Merski. “Vaccine distribution has now ramped up to the point that the vaccine is easily accessible and readily available to all people 16 and older. It’s more important than ever to get vaccinated so that we can beat the virus and put an end to the pandemic.”
“We are pleased with the progress that is being made toward access to the vaccine,” said Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper. “The efficacy of the vaccine is demonstrated in the data. I ask two things of our residents: Get vaccinated as soon as you can, and then encourage every family member and friend to get vaccinated, too. The vaccine is the greatest tool we have in rebuilding this community – our businesses, our schools, our organizations, our places of worship, our entertainment, our travel and our tourism.”
The clinic, which will administer approximately 600 second doses of the vaccine today, is a good example of the successful collaboration among government, healthcare and community partners happening across Pennsylvania to get shots in to arms.
“The Erie County Department of Health, as well as the community partners, have been working tirelessly to make vaccines available to everyone who is eligible,” said Melissa Lyon, director of the Erie County Department of Health. “We continue to review and anticipate any changes to the process and availability of vaccines in Erie County to make sure they are conveniently accessible to all.”
Pennsylvania has surpassed more than 8 million vaccinations and equitable vaccine distribution remains a priority. The Racial Equity subcommittee of Pennsylvania’s Joint COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force has united more than 100 community and state government stakeholder members. The subcommittee is focused on creating and strengthening strategies around vaccinations for different ethnic and racial minorities, elderly shut-ins, those struggling with poverty, and people with intellectual disabilities and vaccine hesitancy.
“Erie has risen to the challenge in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Annette V. Wagner. “The historically black community centers of Erie took the initiative to provide COVID education and asymptomatic testing to ensure equality of access for ethnic minorities in partnership with the Department of Health and the hospital systems. We narrowed the gap by providing access with no insurance requirements, providing testing sites within the various communities, and establishing a level of trust. The program has since evolved to offering COVID vaccinations and dispelling the myths surrounding the shots to our most vulnerable and high risk population. The response has been overwhelming. Indeed we are stronger together! ”
To further address hesitancy, the Wolf Administration is encouraging Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated through website information, social media posts, press conferences, and a soon-to-launch statewide media campaign.