Fighting vaccine hesitancy, health officials still work for herd immunity by July 4

Get out the vax
Posted at 11:05 PM, Apr 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-24 23:44:32-04

CINCINNATI — Hospitals and health centers, alongside city and county leaders, have coordinated their efforts through the "Get out the Vax" campaign, working to open vaccinations up to any adult who would like to get one.

In just under three weeks of the campaign, organizers have helped raise the amount of people who have gotten their first vaccine dose from 35% to 45%, with a goal of achieving 80% by July 4.

"I find it extremely urgent that we do it now," said Richard Fowler, pastor at the Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church. "As much as there are those that want to get back to some normalcy, but realizing we are going to be extremely difficult to do that until we are all at a level of immunity. Not perfect, but better than we are now."

A temporary pause in the administration of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine rattled many's confidence in the safety of the vaccines, providing obstacles to meeting the 80% goal. Federal health officials announced administration of the vaccine, and many states -- among them, Ohio and Indiana -- announced they would lift the 11-day pause.

Ohio Republican Representative Brad Wenstrup said, based on his conversations with people who are skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccines, the biggest hurdle is information.

"At the end, they said 'I'm more inclined now,'" said Wenstrup. "We just want to be educated more, not indoctrinated...I don't want to force people into taking a vaccine, but I want them to get all the tools that they need to understand why it's important."

Still, the "Get out the Vax" campaign has continued, with large-scale vaccination sites like Sunday's event at Paul Brown Stadium, where organizers hope to provide around 5,000 vaccines. Walk-up clinics throughout the Greater Cincinnati region have also become more frequently common as availability for the vaccine has increased.

"Our goal is to make sure that people have the best information to make the most informed decision, which is to get the vaccine," said Renee Mahaffey Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap. "That is the only way that we are going to be able to save us and we must work to save us."