(TNS) - Jan. 8—In line with Gov. Jim Justice's plan to first inoculate West Virginians who are at least 80 years old, a drive-through vaccination clinic will be held Friday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
A similar clinic was held Thursday at Brushfork National Guard Armory in Mercer County, where hundreds of people waited in a long line of cars to get their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
Brenda Donithan, administrator of the Mercer County Health Department, said there were "almost 600" doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
The Raleigh County Health Department has not said how many doses it will be administering on Friday, and said the clinic will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Targeting the state's elderly is a piece of the governor's SOW — Save Our Wisdom — program that brings attention to all of the experiential knowledge senior citizens have.
The program also targets public school employees — at first, those who are at least 50 years old.
While county health department officals across the state have talked about the scarcity of vaccine doses, as have health officials across the country, the state as of Thursday had received 109,440 doses and had administered 66,792, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Resources.
Vaccinations in the U.S. began Dec. 14 with health care workers, and so far 6.25 million doses have been given, according to a state-by-state tally by Bloomberg and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Bloomberg analysis shows the state leading all others with 4.13 doses per 100 people administered, and, according to its latest numbers, 58.6 percent of 126,000 delivered doses having been administered.
Monroe and Greenbrier moving rapidly
With its significantly smaller population, Monroe County is likely to wrap up its Covid-19 vaccination program much earlier than neighboring Greenbrier County. Small quantities of two different kinds of vaccines have been doled out to counties across the state, along with instructions on how to conduct vaccination events and the order in which population sectors are to receive shots.
Health care workers and first responders were first on the list of recipients of the state's limited supply of vaccine, and their needs were largely served in weeks one and two, starting in mid-December. Second in line for vaccinations are people age 80 and older.
In a Tuesday afternoon telephone interview, Monroe Health Department administrator Julie Mundell, R.N., said her county was in the midst of wrapping up the vaccinations of all 200 of its nonnursing home residents age 80 and up. That task involved two sessions, one on New Year's Day and the final event Tuesday, both of which were accomplished in cooperation with personnel from the Monroe Health Center.
"We're waiting for word from the state to call in the (age) 70-plus group next," Mundell said.
The Greenbrier County Health Department has similarly moved forward rapidly, albeit with many more age 80-plus individuals in need of vaccinations.
"We have almost 2,000 over-80 people in this county, not counting those in care facilities," Greenbrier health officer Dr. Bridgett Morrison said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
With its state allotment running between 100 and 200 doses of vaccine per week, Greenbrier has a long way to go before inoculating all of the over-80s and, thereby, being permitted to include another age group in its program.
Morrison emphasized that when the state offered a vaccine shipment last Wednesday, with the understanding that the temperature-sensitive doses would have to be administered quickly, she immediately accepted and pulled together a New Year's Eve vaccination event at the State Fairgrounds at which between 150 and 200 doses were administered.
She is hopeful that Greenbrier County will receive another shipment this week, in which case she will organize another event for the 80-plus population to obtain vaccinations on Friday. Although last week's event was first-come, first-served, as instructed by Gov. Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, this week's vaccinations will be administered by appointment, Morrison said. The health department has assembled a database of peoplke age 80 and up to contact for appointments.
Acknowledging that vaccine supplies are limited, Morrison said the problem rests somewhere between the vaccine manufacturers and the federal government, not with the state or local health agencies.
"It's the law of supply and demand," she said. "The state only gets so much. West Virginia only received 16,000 doses initially for the entire state. Every state is in the same situation with getting few doses, but we're ahead in pushing it out faster than the others."
Monroe County's Mundell agreed.
"In a perfect world, there'd be enough vaccine for everybody," she said. "But there's not enough for everybody now."
Boosters starting in Fayette
Fayette County health officials have been among those delivering Covid-19 vaccinations in recent weeks.
On Dec. 31 at the Fayette County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building in Fayetteville, the Fayette County Health Department administered about 180 vaccines to members of the general public who are at least 80 years old. The FCHD had previously vaccinated various emergency services and law enforcement personnel.
Of the doses available to the public on Dec. 31, 100 were Moderna and the others were Pfizer, according to Teri Harlan, the health department's administrator.
"We plan to give second doses (boosters) to 45 people this week," Harlan said Monday. "We will also have about 150 more doses of Pfizer to give to people who are 80 or older."
Harlan said Monday that the department was working on scheduling appointments for the batch of 150 doses.
Plateau Medical Center CEO Josh Wedge said Tuesday his hospital has vaccinated slightly more than 170 employees — all with the Pfizer vaccine — in recent weeks.
The first round of vaccines in the initial two weeks focused on front-line staff, then ancillary hospital staff were vaccinated last week.
The first round of follow-up booster shots was to begin Tuesday, Wedge said.
There has been "a great response" from hospital employees, said Wedge, who himself took the vaccine last week.
"One of the blessings (is that) our docs have been really great advocates for the vaccine," he said.
Wedge said the hospital still has some doses of the vaccine available for staff and has the ability to order more doses from the state if necessary.
He noted that he isn't aware of any abnormal physical response to the vaccine from hospital staff so far. "I've not heard of anything unusual," Wedge said.
According to President/CEO Vickie Gay, Montgomery General Hospital received a total of 225 doses of Pfizer vaccine through the first three weeks of distribution (120 for the hospital and 105 for the associated nursing home).
To date, 222 doses have been administered to employees, swing bed patients and extended care/nursing home residents, she said.
Gay said the hospital hasn't experienced any issues with pick-up of the vaccine; however, she stresses that distribution is time-sensitive. "The Pfizer vaccine has to be administered within five days of being removed from ultra-cold storage and within six hours of reconstitution of each vial," Gay said.
Montgomery General picked up 45 more initial vaccine doses on Tuesday, along with 20 booster doses. The latter marks the second dose for the initial 20 administered in week 1.
Wyoming vaccines earmarked
As of Wednesday, the Wyoming County Health Department has been given 250 vaccine doses through the state.
Those vaccines are earmarked for specific population groups — first responders and residents over 80 years of age, based on the governor's plan.
As the vaccine supply increases, there will be more vaccines available to the general population based on age, according to the governor.
One hundred vaccines were designated for the county's first responders, including sheriff's deputies, firefighters, EMS personnel, among others.
All 100 of those vaccines have been administered by the county Health Department, explained Gena Carter, nursing director/administrator.
The remaining 150 are going to county residents 80 and older, by appointment only, this week on a first-come, first-served basis, Carter noted.
The county has more than 800 residents who fall into the over-80 age group, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
County residents who fall into the over-80 age category can phone the Health Department at 304-732-7941 for an appointment.
Vaccines are also available, per the governor's distribution plan, at doctors' offices and participating pharmacies.
Through a companywide distribution plan, Wyoming Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, owned by American Medical Facilities Management (AMFM), has already administered vaccines to the center's patients and employees who wanted them.
There have been no problems with administering the vaccines, Carter noted, other than the minimal number of doses allotted to the county.
"We've always vaccinated our county," Carter emphasized. "This time we're only allowed to vaccinate first responders and those over 80."
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