Brook Ward, president and CEO of Washington Health System, is encouraging residents of southwestern Pennsylvania who have not gotten their COVID-19 vaccinations to get the vaccine.

“It’s safe, it’s effective, it works,” said Ward in a monthly video update.

Ward also pointed that a significant number of people are not getting their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, a troubling development for local health officials, especially with the spread of the Delta variant, the most transmissible and dangerous variant yet seen.

As of July 9, 47% of Washington County residents were fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus; in Greene County, the number was about 35%, and in Fayette County it was 41.49%.

Ward said that 66% of people in Washington County had received at least one dose or are fully vaccinated, while only 45% of Greene County residents have received one or both shots. In Fayette County, 44.5% of people are partially or fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health.

In Washington County, Ward noted, an estimated 19% have skipped their second dose.

“There is a big chunk of you out there who are not fully vaccinated and are not fully protected,” said Ward. “If you take the 66% who have at least one dose, that means there are 34% of the population in Washington County who have no vaccination whatsoever. I don’t want to be alarmist, but we have all heard the news about the Delta variant, which is more contagious and more deadly than the other versions. And at this point, there is no excuse not to get the vaccine.”

In June, more than 99% of people in the United States who died from COVID-19 hadn’t gotten a vaccination.

“We’re over 4 million people worldwide who have died from COVID. There is no reason to be one of them,” said Ward. “Please get vaccinated.”

Ward also announced the upcoming closures of WHS vaccination clinics that had been providing vaccines since they became available.

The WHS Greene clinic was scheduled to close July 14.

Vaccines are available through WHS physicians’ offices, local pharmacies and other sites.

To find a vaccine provider, visit www.vaccine.gov.

“It’s important for those of you who have not been fully vaccinated, even if it’s over 21 days, come in and get your second dose,” said Ward. “For those of you have got nothing, please, don’t wait. It’s not worth risking your life over at this point.”

Ward also noted that the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control still require masks to be worn in health care facilities, including WHS – with some exceptions at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center.

Businesses and organizations can choose to keep the mask mandate in place.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to respect those wishes, and I’d encourage you to do that,” Ward said.

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