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Portage ramps up vaccination efforts

School district, medical center partner for clinic

PORTAGE — While many of its teachers are already vaccinated, the Portage Area School District is taking the next step to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Through the Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber, the district is set to host a vaccine clinic April 22 for high school students, staff and community members.

“We are really fortunate to provide this opportunity to our students and the community,” Superintendent Eric Zelanko said. “We want to take care of our people, and we don’t want to sit back and let the virus take over. If there’s a problem, we’re going to attack it. COVID is a problem, and we’re getting after it.”

The opportunity arose after Gov. Tom Wolf lowered the age restriction for COVID-19 vaccines, allowing individuals 16 years old or older eligible to receive the vaccine starting Monday.

The district obtained 200 doses earlier this year for faculty, but Zelanko said the CSS Medical Center at Windber will be able to provide as many doses necessary for those who register.

The clinic will be available to high school students ages 16 years or older, teachers, faculty and members of the community.

“If we can keep COVID out of our ZIP code, we can keep students in the classroom,” Zelanko said. “Anyone in the Portage community can sign up and receive a vaccine.”

Zelanko said that while the district has witnessed a shutdown of its own recently, the district has been successful in combating the virus.

But with a recent uptick in local cases and events such as prom and graduation approaching, Zelanko said the district wants to ensure students can still “have those experiences and create memories.”

“We want to be able to hold our end of year events without interruption,” Zelanko said. “These events are special for our students, and it’s important to keep students in the classroom.

The clinic begins at 3 p.m. Thursday at the high school auditorium.

Members of the community interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine should visit the high school office by Tuesday to receive more information.

“We’re hoping to get a great turnout,” Zelanko said.

Mirror Staff Writer Calem Illig is at 814-946-7536.

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