CLARION - Free COVID-19 vaccination shots could be available at the "I Love Clarion" event July 3 in Clarion.

Tracy Becker, executive director of the Clarion Area Chamber of Business and Industry, brought the idea to the June 1 meeting of Clarion Borough Council.

Becker was also there to seek council approval for various events throughout the day on July 3, including sidewalk sales and a crafters event in Memorial Park.

Becker also asked that council waive or reduce the standard $75 fee for crafters to sell their wares. A decision on that request is expected later this month.

The COVID-19 vaccination effort would be in conjunction with Walmart and the Clarion County Economic Development Corp.

Carol Lapinto, Clarion Borough Council president, said she met with Jared Heuer, an economic development specialist with the CCEDC, Becker and Jim Crooks, of Destination Clarion Downtown, to talk about the "I Love Clarion" event.

"I was shocked to learn only 38 percent (of the population of Clarion County) is vaccinated against COVID," said Lapinto.

Lapinto said it was the belief of the informal group that offering the vaccine during the day in Clarion might entice more people to get the shot.

In an email to the others, Heuer said while Walmart was "very excited to partner" with the group for the vaccination effort, there are some "significant" logistical steps that need to be addressed.

Most notably, the vaccine must be kept cold and must be used within six hours of being pulled from long-term storage. Because of that limitation, Walmart wants to limit the hours the shots are available to the daylight, mid-morning to mid-afternoon hours.

Another unsettled matter is where the vaccination clinic would be set up.

Heuer said Walmart is "OK" with an outdoor clinic, but would like to have some kind of access to indoor facilities in case the weather is too hot (making it difficult to store the vaccine) and because hot weather could worsen any anxiety people have about getting the shot.

Also, since "I Love Clarion" is a one-day event, Walmart coordinator Lindsay Bingham suggested using the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccination.

If the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is used, Walmart will instruct recipients to come to Walmart for the second dose.

Split locations

While "I Love Clarion" will begin during the day in downtown Clarion, the evening events including the fireworks display -- will be in the parking lot at the Clarion Mall in Monroe Township.

Becker said the chamber hoped to have the fireworks and evening band at Clarion University's Memorial Stadium, that location is still not open to the public due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

"Instead, we'll have the morning and afternoon activities in town and then move it out to the mall," said Becker.

Those in-town activities could include about 20 local crafters sitting up tents in the park across from the courthouse.

Clarion Borough usually charges $75 for a vendor's permit, but the chamber is asked that the fee be reduced to $50 or even eliminated for the "I Love Clarion" promotion.

Because that reduction or elimination request arrived on the day of the council meeting, it had not been through committee review.

Clarion Borough Council will meet again June 15 to consider that portion of the request.

All other parts of the request for the event were approved, with council member Brenda Sanders Dede opposed.

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