Fayette continues efforts to get people vaccinated

Fayette continues efforts to get people vaccinated

Fayette County Commissioner Scott Dunn looked on at the activity Saturday in the Connellsville Area High School auxiliary gym as volunteers and Highlands Hospital staff members administered COVID-19 vaccinations to more than 1,000 people.

“I can’t say enough about the effect Highlands Hospital has made” in the county’s goal to get shots in the arms of all residents seeking the vaccinations, Dunn said.

He thanked Highlands CEO John Andursky and Highlands pharmacist Matt Mascia for their efforts.

Dunn noted the efficiency level at the Highlands’ clinic.

Vaccine recipients quickly moved through the process, from signing in to receiving shots and to their 15-minute waits to ensure they experienced no negative reactions to the Pfizer vaccine.

“This is just great,” Andursky said, as he watched a steady flow of vaccine recipients.

Andursky said he was proud of the Highlands staff and community volunteers who, for the past two weeks, have contributed time to help make the process run smoothly.

Volunteer nurses prepare to administer COVID-19 vaccinations at Uniontown Mall on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Paula O’Connell

“The volunteers are doing a great job,” Andursky said “We have a great staff who steps up all the time.”

He recognized Mascia for pulling the clinics together and helping to make them a success. Mascia and Andursky acknowledged the help of Mickie Sandusky, Highlands infections preventionist.

Andursky said Highlands will explore the possibility of additional clinics, although they might not be on the same scale as the past two Saturday events.

Mascia said it will depend on availability of clinic sites and the number of doses the hospital can obtain.

He said the clinics were possible because of the volunteers, including hospital auxiliaries, retired hospital personnel, school teachers, retired teachers, school district volunteers, local physicians and their staffs and hospital volunteers — just to name a few.

“This is a little bit of everyone,” Mascia said, thanking all who helped.

Mascia and Andursky thanked the Connellsville Area School District, which provided a space large enough to keep the clinic organized and orderly.

Mascia said 1,110 recipients were scheduled for the Saturday clinic. The previous week, the hospital vaccinated more than 1,000 people.

Second doses will be distributed March 6 and 13. Recipients will retain their time slots from the first two clinics. Vaccinations are by appointment only. Walkups will not be accepted.

The names of Saturday recipients were drawn from the Fayette County COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force registry.

Dunn said that as of Saturday, 22,800 people had placed names on the registry. Once a name is on the list, providers schedule appointments as sites and vaccine become available.

On the first day the registry was up, more than 12,000 names were listed. Dunn said names from those first days are still being pulled.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said.

Dan O’Connell waits for the OK to get his first COVID-19 dose at Uniontown Mall on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Paula O’Connell

Dunn said the task force is working to get the word out about the list, especially to senior citizens. He is asking churches, organizations, senior centers and anyone who knows older citizens to help them get their names on the registry.

Anyone who has missed a telephone call for to arrange a vaccination appointment will remain on the list and get another call.

Dunn said many people and organizations are helping to “make this happen,” calling it a “massive undertaking.”

The commissioner said he watched Friday as West Virginia University representatives worked side-by-side with Penn State Fayette nursing students and University of Pittsburgh pharmacy students at the WVU Medicine Uniontown hospital clinic at the Uniontown Mall.

Dunn said he was thankful for cooperation seen throughout the community.

He acknowledged the dedication and work by task force members: Fayette County Emergency Management Agency, Fayette EMS, WVU Medicine Uniontown and Highlands hospitals, commissioners, Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and Centerville Clinics.

He noted help from staff members of state Sen. Pat Stefano and state reps. Ryan Warner and Matt Dowling.

Dunn said clinics like those by Highlands and WVU Medicine Uniontown hospitals are helping to get names off the registry.

He said Fayette’s work is being recognized across the state.

A recent virtual meeting with County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania had people in the organization discussing Fayette’s vaccine-management plan.

Since the vaccines became available, more than 12,000 people have been vaccinated in Fayette County. That number includes those vaccinated through various programs such as those in nursing homes, Veterans Affairs events, pharmacy clinics, etc.