LIMA — With the COVID-19 Delta variant causing cases to rise across the country, local officials are making a harder push to get Ohioans vaccinated.
The message has not seemed to get through to everyone in northwestern Ohio, as the vaccination rate lags significantly behind other areas. As a whole, Ohio sits at just over 48 percent of its population with at least one shot. Lima Mayor David Berger said that the best way to stop a major outbreak in Lima is to prevent it before it happens, which means getting the vaccination rate up to par with the rest of the state.
“We can avoid (an outbreak) if we take seriously the opportunity to walk in and get vaccinated. It’s available, there’s no longer any kind of shortage of whichever vaccine someone prefers,” he said. “Now is the time to do it. Do not wait until we begin to see double-digit or more increases in COVID, and additional death and disability.”
In Allen County, the number is around 35 percent of the population vaccinated. In Auglaize County, it is even lower at 33 percent. Putnam County is slightly ahead at just over 40 percent, but the number still falls short of the state benchmark.
Health officials are warning that if the vaccination rate does not increase soon, Allen and the surrounding counties could become a hotbed for the new variant.
“I can tell you that our case count is creeping up a little bit, so it’s definitely something to watch for,” said Deb Roberts, Director of Nursing at Allen County Public Health. “In our community, with our low vaccination rate, it would not be good. If our case count continues to rise and we don’t have individuals that are vaccinated, then our case count is going to explode.”
Both Allen and Auglaize Counties have put more focus on educating kids and parents about the importance of getting vaccinated before the school year. They are hoping that their visits to area schools will get more shots in arms of those who are most likely to spread the virus. Auglaize County Health Commissioner Oliver Fisher hopes that their messaging can get across and bring more people to their vaccine clinics.
“We are seeing low turnouts for our vaccine clinics that we do. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a personal choice at the moment, and we do strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated, especially with the Delta variant that’s going around,” he said. “We’re making efforts, it’s just a very low uptake at the moment.”