The effort to vaccinate as many people in Lancaster County and across the region is in a critical phase, Dr. Michael Ripchinski, site director of the Lancaster County Community Vaccination Center said Wednesday.
“We know we have a long way to go before we reach herd immunity,” said Ripchinski, who is also chief clinical officer with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health on a press release. “If we all do our part and get our shot, we can finally get back to work, back to school, back to sports and events – back to normal.”
Lancaster General Health is the lead health care partner for the Vaccinate Lancaster Coalition.
Ripchinski, who has become the face of the county’s COVID-19 response and vaccination effort, took his message to the community Wednesday in a town-hall event hosted by the Lancaster Chamber.
His continuing outreach and messaging effort comes as interest in getting vaccinations has waned.
As of May 4, the center has administered more than 169,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Officials noted patient volume has significantly dropped from administering 3,000 first-doses a day.
As a result, the Lancaster County mass vaccination site is curbing its operating hours.
Effective May 16, the Lancaster County Community Vaccination Center is discontinuing its Sunday hours.
Through the end of May, the site is averaging roughly 1,500 second-dose appointments a day, about half of what the mass vaccination site in the former Bon-Ton store at Park City Center can accommodate, Ripchinski said.
One in three patients inoculated at the mass vaccination site are from the region, Ripchinski told LNP | LancasterOnline Wednesday.
The center is slated to remain open until June 30, said Brett Marcy, coalition spokesman. Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman, however, has said the center will operate until the beginning of June.
Get your shot of hope today
With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration poised to authorize emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds as early next week, officials will hold off making a closure date determination until then. (Currently, Pfizer has emergency authorization for individuals 16 and older.)
Ripchinski estimated that across the region this demographic could equate to as many as 100,000 kids. Ripchinski projected in Lancaster County alone there are roughly 40,000 children that could be eligible for the vaccine.
Expanding eligibility to children could rejuvenate the effort to vaccinate Lancaster County.
“We need to vaccinate ourselves and our children to have any hope of reaching herd immunity and finally defeating this pandemic,” Ripchinski said. “Get your shot of hope today.”
For more information on the Vaccinate Lancaster Coalition, or to register and schedule a first dose of vaccine, call 717-588-1020 or visit VaccinateLancaster.org.
New operating hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The center will be closed for the Memorial Day holiday on May 31.