Nearly half of the employees of long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania have declined a COVID-19 vaccine, a disease that has swept through many such homes during the pandemic, the state Health Department said Thursday.

Many of the 47% of the employees who passed on the vaccine expressed fears of being first in line for the shots and were being a “bit more cautious,” said Keara Klinepeter, the state’s executive deputy health secretary.

The state has set goals to work with those who are hesitating to get a COVID-19 vaccine and continue to make the drugs available to long-term care employees in their workplaces, Klinepeter said.

Nearly 79% of the residents of these facilities have been vaccinated, she said.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania extended the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until April 21 or there is updated guidance on the use of the drug from federal regulators, the state Health Department said.

The pause resulted in the discovery of seven women who developed blood clots within two weeks after receiving the one-dose J&J vaccine. One of the cases proved fatal and another involved a 26-year-old Pennsylvania woman who recovered in a New Jersey hospital, the state Health Department said.

The state reported 5,730 new virus cases Thursday, bringing the running total to 1,087,792 since March 2020. There were 44 new statewide deaths, including one in Washington County.

Washington County reported 59 new cases, taking its total to 16,163. Greene County added nine cases to its total of 3,054. Fayette County reported 39 new cases, bringing its total to 11,875.

Staff Writer

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley.

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