Nearly 40% of all fully vaccinated Lancaster County residents received their shot at the county’s mass vaccination site that closed last month.
As of July 1, more than 250,700 Lancastrians were fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data. Roughly 92,100 were vaccinated at the Lancaster County Community Vaccination Center in the former Bon-Ton store at Park City Center, data provided by site director Dr. Michael Ripchinski shows.
Since opening on March 10, the mass vaccination site fully vaccinated 117,326 people age 12 and older across the region. Lancaster County residents accounted for the vast majority of those vaccinated, at 78%.
“At the end of the day, I concentrate on the over 100,000 fully vaccinated,” said Ripchinski, who is also the chief clinical officer with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health.
The Lancaster County Community Vaccination Center was a public private partnership headed by LG Health.
While arguably the largest vaccination effort in the region, Ripchinski acknowledged that the bulk of the heavy lifting in the county’s immunization campaign is being done by hospitals, pharmacies and pop-up clinics.
Ripchinski added, “We never anticipated that the Community Vaccination Center would be the sole opportunity to get vaccinated.”
The county’s Federally Qualified Health Center is among the dozens of agencies involved in the vaccination push.
“Union Community Care has (fully) vaccinated over 6,000 patients and community members through intentional and equitable vaccination pop-up collaboration and events on-site and in the Lancaster and Lebanon communities,” Jackie Concepcion, the center’s vice president of community impact, said in an email. She is leading the center’s vaccination effort.
The closure of the mass vaccination site on June 30 signaled a shift in the effort from a centralized site toward more targeted campaigns.
Patients who received their first of a two-dose regime for the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after June 9 are being referred to a community partner for their second shot. The Pfizer vaccine requires a second dose, booster shot three weeks later.
“If you haven’t been vaccinated, there’s still time to do so,” said John Lines, an LG Health spokesman.
Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman agreed.
Lehman and Ripchinski both said there was more work to be done.
As of Friday, 55% of the population 12 and older in Lancaster County were fully vaccinated. The vaccination rate for this cohort in Pennsylvania is 49.5%, according to state data.
“My fear is that most folks who have not yet been vaccinated are vaccine hesitant and are probably not persuadable, regardless of the approach,” Lehman, the only of three commissioners to respond to an LNP | LancasterOnline inquiry, said in an email.
The Delta variant, which is twice as contagious as the original coronavirus and wreaking havoc in unvaccinated pockets in the U.S., threatens to undo all the work done to vaccinate Americans.
Ripchinski’s biggest worry is the fall, when children return to school.
“We could be in a very different situation,” he said.