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Pleas from friends, $100 gift cards from government move the needle in Adams County

Health officials hopeful for Ohio's second least-vaccinated county
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Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 20:31:13-04

The Adams County Health Department vaccinated 32 people against COVID-19 on Friday. It was a deluge of new patients compared to July, where some days passed without any vaccinations in a county where 70% of people have not gotten a coronavirus shot.

“I think everybody should get the shot,” said Wilma Miller, one of the vaccine recipients, on Friday. “I should have a long time ago, but I didn’t.”

Her fear of the vaccine, which has been safely administered to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, was so intense she didn’t get it even after catching COVID-19 with her husband in November. It took a friend’s intervention to convince her that she needed additional protection from the virus.

“I made her a promise,” Miller said. “And I said yeah. So we came and got the shot today.”

Health commissioner Dr. William Hablitzel said he’s optimistic about the future of the vaccine in Adams County, where he said he sees one-time vaccine resisters like Miller being moved by the pleas — and sometimes the close calls — of friends and family.

“In a small community, part of it is some of the powerful stories we hear of someone we know whose family, entire family, was sick, and one member of that family became critically ill and wound up on a ventilator in the hospital,” he said. “Those are powerful stories."

Others were motivated by an incentive offered by the Ohio government: A $100 gift card to Walmart for getting the shot. Some people in line with Miller said it was the only reason they’d come.

Whatever the reason, Hablitzel said, he welcomes it and hopes the enthusiasm for vaccination will spread.

Even with numbers improving, Adams County is the second least-vaccinated county in Ohio. Only Holmes County, where the Ohio Department of Health reports over 80% of people have not received a shot, is less protected from the novel coronavirus.