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Vaccine push continues with unique incentives as vaccination rate declines, variants loom

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Posted at 4:42 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 19:58:08-04

NORTH CANTON, Ohio — As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to fall, the marathon continues for health departments trying to vaccinate as many people as they can.

So far in Ohio, more than 5.5 million Ohioans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which amounts to about 47% of the entire population. Keep in mind, those under the age of 12 are not eligible for the vaccine at this time.

While the line wrapped around a North Canton McDonald's during the lunch hour, some had their meal paid for them, if they took the time to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine through a pop-up clinic located in the parking lot.

It’s just one of the incentives offered through the Stark County Health Department and its partners.

“Feels like a really good place to step, get a burger and get a vaccine,” McDonald's part-owner Trey Locke said.

Eight different McDonalds' took part in hosting pop-up vaccination clinics Tuesday with the help of the Stark County Health Department and the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority.

“The biggest thing is the ease of the pop-up clinics,” Stark County Health Department spokesperson Chris Cugini said. “You literally go on the SARTA bus, and then they go get their meal inside the McDonald’s.”

When you look at the Ohio Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, you’ll notice the number of new confirmed COVID-19 deaths has never been this low throughout the entire pandemic, posting in the single digits since the start of June.

While that number gives many hope, it doesn’t mean Stark County's health department plans to slow down anytime soon.

“It’s up to us to make sure we’re giving every resident the opportunity to get this vaccine,” Cugini said.

The push comes as health leaders continue to investigate COVID-19 variants, which continue to appear in Ohio.

A new study published Monday by the genomics firm Helix said one variant of the virus, called Delta, is becoming increasingly prevalent and now accounts for at least 14% of all new infections nationwide.

“So far, all of the vaccines have shown that they will keep away, especially the Delta variant, that they will be effective against that,” Cugini explained. “So if you want to get back to normal, let's do it. Let's get the vaccine.”

To sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine in Stark County, click here.