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Ohio University students and staff walk through Heritage Hall in Athens, Ohio on September 1, 2022.

Mass booster clinic delivers over 300 vaccines in Athens

The Athens City-County Health Department administered 315 COVID-19 booster vaccines at a bivalent vaccination clinic it hosted Sept. 10.

The clinic was held at Ohio University’s Heritage Hall, located at 191 W. Union St. James Gaskell, Athens City-County health commissioner, said the health department administered both Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations. 

A bivalent vaccine is one that is protective against two viruses. Those vaccines given at the clinic shield the body from both the original COVID-19 strain and Omicron five variants, Gaskell said. Omicron five is the variant currently causing the majority of the infections and is highly contagious, he said. 

The department scheduled 300 individuals to attend the clinic but it also treated a few walk-ins. 

Jack Pepper, administrator of the Athens City-County Health Department, said the clinic predominantly saw individuals who are outside the “typical” student age. 

The health department has held all its mass vaccination clinics at Heritage Hall because it is better suited for larger-scale vaccination operations due to its size.  

“It's just way more efficient for us to deliver a high volume of vaccine out of that facility than out of our own facility,” Pepper said. 

In addition to allowing the department to host its clinics at Heritage Hall, Ohio University also advertised for the event across campus through multiple various channels, Jim Sabin, a university spokesperson, said. 

The health department saw 343 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week, which is a gradual increase since late August, Gaskell said. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Athens County is currently reporting a “high” community level meaning masks are highly recommended to be worn. 

“The numbers right now, I will say, are a little misleading,” Pepper said. “We know that there are a lot of people at this point that are either not testing at all because the disease is not quite as virulent as it once was, or they're doing home tests and then not reporting those home test results to us.”

The health department will likely not host vaccination clinics to the extent they have been over the past few years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don't anticipate that we'll be vaccinating people every four to six months, indefinitely. I think that, and the great hope is, this vaccine may have more durability and may last a little longer than our previous messenger RNA vaccines have lasted,” Gaskell said. “Hopefully this one will provide longer protection.”


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