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Nearly 300 children vaccinated in one day by Meritus Health

While the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was tied to 27 deaths in the Tri-State region last week, Meritus Health said it vaccinated nearly 300 kids against the virus Saturday.

Meanwhile, the percentages of newly reported coronavirus cases are declining in almost all counties in the region, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.

Washington County recorded 12 deaths related to COVID-19 for the week ending Sunday, the data show. Franklin County, Pa., recorded seven deaths. In West Virginia, Berkeley and Jefferson counties each had three deaths, and Morgan County had two. Fulton County, Pa., had none.

The Meritus vaccination clinic for children ages 5 to 11 held Saturday was one of the first in the region following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency approval of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be administered to young children. In the Robinwood Professional Center atrium, the children receiving their first dose of vaccine were greeted by Olaf from Disney's "Frozen" movies.

The part of Olaf was played by Meritus President and CEO Maulik Joshi. According to a Facebook post from the health system Saturday, Joshi said he knew the pandemic has been tough on everyone, and that this would cheer kids waiting to get the needle.

“Our children have experienced an enormous amount of change and challenge during this pandemic and while receiving a shot isn't always fun, our clinic team did all it could to provide a child-friendly experience," he said.

Saturday's child-vaccination numbers were not factored into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccination rates for Tri-State counties, released that day.

Washington County leads the region with 61.4% of people 12 and older being fully vaccinated. While that's up 0.5 percentage points from the previous week, it's well behind the Maryland average of 77.6% and the national average of 68.3% for the same age range.

Meritus Health and the Washington County Health Department have regularly scheduled COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics. For more information, go to https://washcohealth.org or call 240-313-3200.

The hospital and health department are working with Washington County Public Schools to hold children's COVID-19 vaccination clinics in schools. The first was Monday at Bester Elementary School in Hagerstown. The next is scheduled for Friday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School near Hagerstown.

This article was first published in The Herald-Mail and online at HeraldMailMedia.com in November 2021.

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