COVID-19 vaccination rate in Chester County stands at 89 percent07/14/2021 04:37PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Coinciding with the news that reported statewide positivity for COVID-19 from July 2 to July 8 stood at 1.2 percent of the population, the continual downward trend of cases throughout Pennsylvania has been accompanied by even brighter statistics that rank the commonwealth as among the best in terms of vaccination rates, with Chester County recording exceptional vaccination numbers.
Statewide, vaccine providers administered 11,332,589 total vaccine doses through July 12, with 5.7 million receiving their first/single doses, and 5.5 million receiving their second doses. As of July 6, 60.8 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated while 76 percent have received their first dose.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) numbers as of July 11, Pennsylvania ranks fifth among all 50 states for total doses administered. In the category of second doses being administered, however, the state ranks 22nd among all 50 states.
Statistics provided by the Chester County Health Department report that among the 450,301 eligible residents in Chester County, 399,305 have been partially or fully vaccinated so far – a whopping 89 percent. In nearby Delaware County, 71 percent of its 500,000 eligible residents – 355,044 -- have received partial or full COVID-19 vaccinations.
“There are a number of factors that have contributed to Chester County’s high vaccination rate,” said Jeanne Franklin, Chester County Health Department director. “This includes geographically-dispersed vaccine clinics, and clear and consistent messaging about availability, as well as leveraging partnerships with the state to get us the vaccine doses we needed.”
Franklin also pointed to the many county organizations who partnered with the department to facilitate the administration of the vaccine, including Chester County Hospital, La Comunidad Hispana, the county’s senior centers and several community groups who shared vaccination information with the county’s residents.
“Our vaccination efforts have really be focused on getting as many eligible people as possible vaccinated as soon as possible,” Franklin said. “And if anyone has received a first dose, but missed a second dose appointment, it is not too late to get that second dose. The vaccine is widely available now, and we really encourage everyone who is able, to become fully vaccinated.”
County’s partnership with Delaware County to end Aug. 1
As public health needs relating to the control of COVID-19 decrease, the intergovernmental cooperation agreement between Chester County and Delaware County will come to an end on Aug. 1.
After more than 16 months as the public health lead – and at the request of the Chester County Commissioners and Delaware County Council -- Franklin wrote to Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam requesting the discontinuation of the agreement.
The intergovernmental cooperation agreement between Chester and Delaware counties, which began in March 2020, identified the responsibilities of the Chester County Health Department during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those responsibilities included coordination of testing, case investigation and surveillance, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine designations, vaccinations, and public health communication.
Throughout the pandemic, Franklin and her team also worked with Delaware County staff to support the pandemic challenges faced by long term care facilities, hospitals, first responders, both County prisons and other congregate care settings, as well as the school districts in both counties.
“The partnership between Chester and Delaware Counties provided a focused public health response for everyone living and working in both counties,” said Commissioner Marian Moskowitz. “It worked because we all had one desire: To do everything that we could to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and to keep all of our residents as healthy as possible.
“It also worked because, when we asked [Jeanne] if her team had the capacity to support Delaware County, she and her team replied that not only did they have the capacity, but they truly wanted to provide support if needed. For that, we all thank her and everyone on her team.”
Vaccinations for back-to-schoolers
When it comes to vaccinations in Chester County, the news is not all positive. Current health department data indicates that children across Chester County are behind in their routine vaccinations, including those needed to attend school. Pennsylvania requires children to have specific vaccines before they enter school, and students who do not meet vaccine requirements within five days of the start of school are not permitted in school until the requirements are met.
“We all saw first-hand how proper vaccination levels across our county mitigate the spread of viruses,” Franklin said. “We cannot forget that our children need routine vaccinations to remain healthy and free from a variety of other viruses and diseases, and many of the vaccines are required to attend school.
“Vaccines are safe, effective, and an important part of keeping children healthy year round,” she added. “As a parent, making sure your children are vaccinated on time is an important step toward ensuring their long-term health. Proper vaccination among school-aged children promotes health and prevents disease outbreaks in schools and childcare settings, and keeps our children learning.”
The Chester County Health Department encourages all families and pediatricians to join a county-wide “Call to Action” to catch children up on their vaccinations, which are covered by health insurance and medical assistance.
Families without a doctor or health insurance can receive vaccinations from the Chester County Health Department at no cost. A parent or guardian must accompany their child and bring prior vaccine records. To learn more, visit the Health Department website at chesco.org/immunize or call 610-344-6225 for information and appointments.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected]