And now, Indiana County’s vaccine hesitance

Cathy Scribe, of Indiana, at Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Center, May 20, 2021. The building is the site of a weekly Covid-19 vaccination clinic sponsored by Indiana Regional Medical Center. Today’s walk-in clinic is open until 4:30 p.m. Photo: David Loomis

Coronavirus diary

By David Loomis

INDIANA – Cathy Scribe arrived midday Thursday to receive her second Covid-19 vaccination. The Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex and its parking lot were empty.

Covid-19 masking and distancing rules were posted on the building’s bank of unlocked glass doors. Scribe entered an empty facility. A manager advised her to return Friday for a weekly Indiana Regional Medical Center-sponsored, walk-in vaccine clinic.

“Last week, they told me to come Thursday or Friday this week,” Scribe, 57, of Indiana, said on the front sidewalk. “Today, they said to come Friday.”

It was not her first vaccination miscue, Scribe said. Two weeks earlier she had been turned away for a second shot because medication she had been prescribed might have reacted with the Pfizer vaccine.

But Scribe said she is far from vaccine-hesitant.

“Not at all,” she said. “I was so ready.”

Scribe said she is treated for immune-system disorders, and she worries about Covid-19 vaccine resisters.

“It’s a disease, and it’s preventable,” Scribe said. “Why not do something about it? Why be disrespectful of those who did get a shot?”

Scribe said she has heard false resister arguments that the vaccine is only water. She has heard an unverified claim that a vaccinated patient at the local hospital contracted a breakthrough case of Covid. (The hospital’s public-information office did not respond to a May 20 email.)

But what upsets her are unmasked customers in local convenience stores where masks and gloves are offered free at the front door.

“Only seven of 20 customers had masks on,” Scribe recounted of a recent outing. “There’s not enough enforcement.”


RONALD RILEY, of Indiana, sees a similar lack of support among local officials.

Ron Riley, of Indiana, retired accountant and health-care-finance controller, posts a daily report of Covid-19 data for Indiana County communities. Submitted photo.

Riley, a retired accountant with 23 years of experience in health-care finance, including 18 years at Lee Hospital in Johnstown, where he was assistant controller, has tracked the region‘s public-health data throughout the pandemic. Lately, he sees insufficient official attention paid to local vaccination resistance.

“The level of vaccinations for Indiana County continues to fall behind,” Riley reported on May 20. “Vaccine hesitancy has hit all too soon, with only 35% of the population with at least one dose, far less than 46.4% for the state. Indiana County ranks 58th of 67 counties by percentage of population over age 15 receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.”

Riley wrote that the county’s low ranking reflects a familiar official p.r. refrain during the pandemic.

“We should not be surprised at this awful performance,” he wrote. “We have seen it before.  The majority commissioners have missed the mark on nearly every significant milestone of the pandemic … and now the vaccine.”

Covid-19 data, update for May 21. Chart: Ron Riley


David Loomis, Ph.D., emeritus professor of journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is editor of The HawkEye.

The HawkEye invites comments on this and other issues of community interest. Email

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2 Responses to And now, Indiana County’s vaccine hesitance

  1. Bill Edmondson says:

    There were plenty of shots available at the 3rd Thursday night at IRMC park on north 7th street. Why all of a sudden are people having problems getting the vaccine between all the pharmacy’s and grocery stores giving out shots


      In March and April a number of Indiana residents signed up through Blairsville pharmacy and went to St Vincent college for the clinic explains why westmoreland county has a high vaccine rate

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