DOVER, Ohio — While state leaders continue to push for more vaccinations, one county lagging behind the state average is initiating a new program meant to help catch up.
The Tuscarawas Senior Center recently received a $61,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Aging to help decrease vaccine hesitancy and increase its vaccination rate from 40% to a goal of 60% by December. That increase would equate to about 18,000 people in the county receiving a vaccine over the next three months.
“When I saw this opportunity to write this grant, I was looking out for our seniors,” executive director Jamie L. Smith said. “I want to make sure our doors stay open and they have a place to come. If we can continue vaccinating across the county and staying alive, that’s going to keep our doors open here.”
The grant will go toward seven vaccination clinics spread across the county.
Statewide, 53.45% of Ohioans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, even with those under 12 years old still ineligible.
Currently, Delaware County leads the state with 67% of its population with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with Lake County second at 60%.
"Twenty percent is not that much," Smith said. "It’s a little over 18,000 people. We can do that."
It’s a county currently seeing new COVID-19 case numbers similar to how things looked in December 2020.
Amy Kaser serves as the Director of Nursing for Tuscarawas County and sees the surge underway.
"The hospital is right here literally down the road from us and that place right now is full; it’s at capacity," she said. "We have to trust the vaccine is going to help stop this. We are seeing and we’re going to continue to see a rise in our county if we don’t."
As part of the grant, the senior center will also offer free transportation to those who need it. You can call 234-801-8007 to arrange a ride.
The first vaccine clinic under this new push starts on September 30. See below for all dates and times: