Lebanese health community targets sensitization of unvaccinated half of county

Lebanon county officials and health care providers worked together on how to get around half of the county that was not vaccinated vaccinated.

It comes as the Delta variant continues to affect the unvaccinated at a disproportionate rate and has caused an increase in cases among county residents and local influencers have spread doubt and conspiracy theories surrounding the vaccine.

Currently, 52 percent of the residents of Lebanon County have been partially vaccinated and 47.7 percent of the total residents have been fully vaccinated, according to the state health ministry.

Stephanie Andreozzi, co-leader of the WellSpan vaccination team, said that “people have reason to hesitate. Part of this is misinformation they heard about in the media, others point to long-term concerns about safety and trust in the healthcare system.

“We have heard some people express concern about how quickly the vaccine has been developed,” although the technology behind the vaccine has been in development for years, and now the Pfizer-BioNTech jab received full FDA approval.

The perception that vaccines are not very effective or are based on new technology are common reasons some county residents say they do not get the vaccine, alongside the fact that those vaccinated should always wear masks in certain situations. In addition, some people who have had the coronavirus and therefore have a degree of natural immunity do not think that it is necessary to be vaccinated.

“Our data shows a drastic reduction in the number of people who get sick, and it’s because of the vaccination rates that we have,” Andreozzi said. “People who have been vaccinated, even if they test positive, do not develop serious illness and (not) end up in hospital, and this is an important step. “

She added that they were starting to see the number of cases increase in local communities, a “frustrating trend” which she attributed to the fact that “we do not have enough people vaccinated in our communities”.

Regarding the breakthrough cases, Andreozzi said that the vaccines have never been said to be 100% effective, even though trials have shown an effectiveness rate in the order of 95%. Even if the virus overtakes the drug, it is still much less likely to create serious illness.

“If we can prevent disease, prevent hospitalization and prevent death, that’s a wonderful thing,” Andreozzi said.

People in Lebanon heat up against misinformation and mistrust

Nonetheless, misinformation and doubt about coronavirus vaccines continues to grow in the veins of the digital arteries of Lebanon County. Nationally, Republicans and African Americans have been disproportionately hesitant. In Lebanon County, local influencers from these groups have sowed distrust of coronavirus vaccines.

Republican State Representative Russ Diamond has repeatedly promoted Right to refuse legislation on their Facebook page and recently used rhetoric compare coronavirus vaccinations to what some have interpreted as rape, outrage of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

Cornwall Mayor Mark Thomas, in a Facebook post, a describe vaccines as the product of a plot by ex-CEO and Microsoft founder Bill Gates alongside the CIA to erase religion and control men’s minds.

Thomas also promoted a video presenting the activities of the Rule of Law Society linked to Steve Bannon, which published a study on the coronavirus which scientists described as “bizarre and unfounded”. He did not respond to questions for comment via Facebook or email.

Meanwhile, a large African-American community activist Michelle Cotton, who led and organized the recent Black Lives Matter protests in the county, has criticized the vaccines for years citing discredited conspiracy theories that they cause autism.

Her anti-vaccine posts on Facebook, reaching minority populations in Lebanon County, have recently become more common. Recent comments or reruns of his account have raised the specter of a sinister plot to chip away at county residents, called the coronavirus vaccine passports “Nazis” and declared them the new Jim Crow. She did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Taste of Sicily, a restaurant in La Palmyre who performed fact-checks by USA Today for previous reports of inaccuracy related to the coronavirus rules and saw its content flagged for misleading information, used Facebook promote religious exemptions coronavirus vaccine warrants and examples of people who received the vaccine and nonetheless contracted the virus as presumed evidence that the vaccine is questionable.

Targeted messaging

Now that supply issues are no longer a major issue, the coordination of messages by the Community Health Council has adopted to target those who have been more resistant to the vaccine, said Nikki Maurer, executive director of the board.

Among the techniques that the non-profit collective undertakes, communication with local influencers.

In Lebanon County in particular, WellSpan associated with Guadalupe Barba, the owner of La Placita de Liban. They have had multiple pop-up vaccination sites that have seen entire families get vaccinated due to his influence, Andreozzi said.

Communicating with religious leaders to ensure they can play a major role in tackling disinformation has also been very effective, Maurer explained.

“We want people to have conversations with their doctors,” Andreozzi said. Many people were waiting for their regular doctor’s office to deliver the vaccine to them instead of receiving it from a mass site, and it is now available.

She added that keeping community partners informed with up-to-date information has been particularly important in allaying concerns based on what were previously relative unknowns, such as pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine recommend now the vaccine for pregnant women.

“Our providers were able to have very specific conversations with people who have very specific concerns,” Maurer said. “Unfortunately, COVID is not going anywhere, and the best defense we have is people getting vaccinated.”

Also:Lebanon County District Prosecutor to Not Prosecute Violations of Wolf’s School Mask Mandate

Learn more:Coronavirus in Lebanon County: Why I Got Vaccinated – And Why You Should Too

Jen Hetrick, a resident, was among those who initially hesitated due to previous allergic reactions to drugs and food.

“My approach was to trust scientists,” Hetrick said. “The reasons I didn’t have it at first was my history of an allergic reaction.”

Hetrick had reacted badly to some over-the-counter medications and shellfish. “It was sort of uncharted waters,” she said, referring to the novelty of the vaccine, which concerned her at the time.

She waited, but as she started planning concerts and other events, she decided to switch to photography.

At the time, all of his EpiPens had expired, but his doctor told him that more than 31,000 people had been vaccinated at the local county mass vaccination site at the time, and he may not have known personally that. two or three people who needed medical attention after receiving the vaccine.

Ultimately, Hetrick said she never had a fever or felt sick, just a mildly sore arm and minor fatigue. She drank lots of water and rested, and was fine. She had a similar reaction to the second dose.

Hal Conte is a quality of life and mid-Pennsylvania reporter for the Lebanon Daily News. You can find him on Twitter at @conte_hal.


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