Morgantown residents have questions about the vaccine rollout, and we’ve got answers.
West Virginia has risen as an exemplar in the nation when it comes to quickly vaccinating residents against COVID-19. So far, the state has administered more than 130,000 first doses of the vaccine, and it plans to keep trucking as quickly as supply allows. Those who’ve received one can breathe a small sigh of relief.
But plenty of Morgantown residents still have questions—like When will it be my turn? How will I know? Where do I go? Is it really safe? This is what we know:
getting signed up
Governor Jim Justice announced January 19 that the state would now vaccinate residents as young as 65. If you fall in that group you have a few options.
- You can take advantage of the new vaccine clinic opened by WVU Medicine in the old Sears at the Morgantown Mall. You have to have an appointment, and you get one by calling 833.795.SHOT or signing up at wvumedicineorg/info/vaccine. Fair warning: 1,000 appointments for Thursday and Friday of this week were scooped up within an hour and a half of registration channels opening. There is currently a waiting list of almost 5,000 names. If you want the shot, it still pays to make the call and get on the list. When the supply becomes available, that waiting list could be taken care of in a day or two.
- You can register with the Monongalia County Health Department by calling 304.598.5100. Leave your information, and a representative will return your call letting you know where to go and when. The Health Department has received thousands of calls and has created a list of residents’ names for scheduling purposes. Keep up to date with developments by following the Health Department @wvmchd on Facebook.
- The state has promised the rollout of a comprehensive online registration tool, possibly as soon as the end of this week. It will replace other mechanisms of signing up and will incorporate local health departments. We’ll share it with you when it’s live.
lingering virus and vaccine concerns
With 30 vaccination stations in place and 50 reassigned employees manning the facility, the WVU Medicine vaccine clinic could administer as many as 4,000 vaccines a day once it reaches full capacity. The Health Department is working separately on administering vaccines, with vaccination events and regional clinics announced through news outlets and social media channels. Both WVU Medicine and the Health Department are administering both vaccine types—Pfizer and Moderna—depending on what’s available on a given day.
WVU Medicine is vaccinating only West Virginia residents with valid state ID in its clinics. The Health Department is limiting theirs to current Mon County residents only.
There are lingering concerns and questions about vaccines, especially with the new, more communicable strains of the virus circulating now. Here’s what you should know about that:
- According to the Health Department the newer, more contagious strains of COVID-19 have not been identified in Morgantown or West Virginia.
- Vaccines look like they’ll be effective against new strains, too, says Dr. Diane Gross, MCHD regional epidemiologist, adding that effectiveness on new strains is currently being investigated.
- There have been concerns that kids are more susceptible to at least one of the new strains. Hello, return to school. Gross says there is no evidence to support that claim thus far, and there is no evidence to suggest the variant is more severe than previous iterations.
- Health experts recommend that everyone get the vaccine, even folks who’ve had COVID in the past as long as it’s been 90 days since the infection. Both brands of vaccine require two doses for full protection. The time interval to your second dose will depend on which brand of vaccine you get; you’ll be given that information at the time of your first shot.
- Of the 7,000 vaccine doses that WVU Medicine has administered to its staff, there hasn’t been a single major adverse reaction to it, says Chief Pharmacy Officer Todd Karpinski. Common side effects include muscle soreness, fatigue, headache, and maybe a slight fever.
It’s still not time to relax
The vaccine rollout might feel like forward momentum, but it doesn’t give anyone a hall pass on maintaining the mitigation efforts that have become second nature. “The vaccine is a very important tool in the fight against COVID-19,” Gross says, “but we can’t let up on these other measures for the foreseeable future.” Karpinski agrees. “This is the light at the end of the tunnel, but it isn’t the end of the tunnel yet. Wear your mask, keep your distance, wash your hands, and take all the same precautions you’ve been taking all along.”