Warren, PA – Today, Commissioner Jeff Eggleston, in conjunction with the Warren County Development Association (WCDA) and various community leaders, launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Awareness Campaign which aims at increasing vaccine awareness, combatting misinformation, and expanding utilization of COVID-19 vaccines. The campaign will involve multiple grassroots components including sharing print materials, social media advertisements, radio and newspaper advertising, and creating channels for local leaders in the public and private sectors to endorse vaccination.
The Vaccine Awareness Team, an ad hoc committee chaired by Eggleston made up of local business and community leaders, met on Wednesday, December 2nd and began discussing the framework for the campaign and how it would function. “We believe very strongly that local voices need to carry the message conveying the fact that the vaccine is safe and effective, and we need a higher vaccination rate if we’re going to get past this pandemic,” said Commissioner Eggleston.
Jim Decker, President and CEO of the WCCBI, the parent corporation of the WCDA, added, “Something needs to be done. Our medical system is stressed and with a low vaccination rate we are vulnerable to surges.”
An important piece of the initial meeting was a report by Joe Akif, COO of Warren General Hospital, and the CEO, Rick Allen, outlining the status of the hospital and calling on an effort to address the vaccine situation.
“Over 90% of the inpatients for COVID issues are unvaccinated,” said Akif. “We are running out of space, and we are working on getting more ventilators.”
Rick Allen added, “We are in a critical state right now. For serious cases there’s practically nowhere else to go. The other hospitals in the region are also completely maxed out.”
The Vaccine Awareness Team then outlined strategies to fundraise and promote vaccine awareness. The WCDA is launching a website on Tuesday, December 7th titled WarrenVax.com which will be the hub for vaccine information and networking. A component of that site will be fundraising, as the group gathers resources for the effort.
“We have raised over $3500 already for the promotion and we haven’t actually launched the fundraising campaign yet, which is great,” said Eggleston.
Eggleston continued, “We are looking to raise $5000 to $10,000 to promote vaccination in the county and I feel confident we can. We’ve also applied for and feel confident we’re going to get a grant from DCED for vaccine promotion.”
Doctor Keith Price, Warren General Hospital’s Medical Director added, “We’re going to do everything we can to share the facts, the science, and include testimonials relevant to this cause. As long as we are at such a low vaccination rate, we will be vulnerable to the virus and its variants, and more people will be harmed by it.”
Currently, it is estimated that roughly 41% of the county is fully vaccinated, which is one of the lowest rates in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is also estimated that Warren County has one of the highest rates of death per capita from the coronavirus and in the past week the county has logged the highest transmission rate in the state. Heading into flu season, this puts Warren County in a precarious position.
The group’s plan is to fundraise through the following week and the begin advertisements and circulating materials December 10th. This will continue through January and even February depending on the status of the county at that time.
People who want to donate to support the effort can go to WarrenVAX.com and donate online or they can mail Warren County Development Association, C/O WarrenVAX.com, 308 Market Street, Warren, PA 16365.
Inquiries for information should be directed to the email email@example.com or via phone to Commissioner Eggleston at 814-584-2203.