MERCER CO., Ohio (WKBN) – Two big changes happened on Thursday in Mercer County. The state of emergency was lifted and mask restrictions were changed to follow CDC guidelines, both effective immediately. Commissioners also wanted to recognize the team approach to fighting the coronavirus.
Mercer County singled out five groups that have been instrumental in the response to the coronavirus and getting vaccines out to the public.
“I’m incredibly proud. I’m tired, you know, this has been a hard year for a lot of folks in our community,” said Dr. George Garrow, with Primary Health Network.
Mercer County battled the virus just like everyone else. Sharon Regional Medical Center was one of the groups receiving proclamations. It has distributed over 20,000 doses and felt the vaccine was the turning point.
“I think it made a big difference in getting confidence back up in the community for people getting the health care they need,” said Dr. David Shellenbarger, with Sharon Regional Medical Center.
Mercer County has been one of the leaders in the vaccine effort. Thirty-nine percent of its residents are fully vaccinated, which is three percent higher than Lawrence County. Mahoning County leads the local effort in Ohio at 37 percent, followed by Trumbull County with 35 percent.
“When we received it, we gave it. Not only us but also the other providers in our county. So yes, we’re very proud of being a high percentage immunization county,” said Bretton Walberg, with Walberg Pharmacies.
“Without even being asked, these hospitals and pharmacies stepped up and they were able to deliver so many vaccines,” said Tim McGonigle, a Mercer County commissioner.
Walberg Pharmacy has received another 1,000 doses. The next effort is reaching children, as the vaccine is now available to ages 12 and older.
The plateau may have been reached, and there’s a shift to the next phase.
“Maybe not quite the pandemic feel that it was before, but maybe more ‘endemic,’ meaning that it’s here and we can’t let our guard down,” Dr. Garrow said.
The volume for the vaccinations has gone down, but all of the providers stressed the importance of vaccination because of the variants and keeping the protection against them.