Vaccination is going well in Monongalia County. But if you’re on the waiting list to get a vaccine, you need to answer your phone when it rings.
The Greater Monongalia County COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at the old Sears store in the Morgantown Mall is getting vaccines into arms as fast as Monongalia County is receiving them from the state.
But schedulers could use a little help: If you’re waiting for a vaccine, pick up your phone when it rings.
WVU Medicine phone bankers are calling people ages 65 and up who have pre-registered to schedule first doses, as vaccine doses become available, and they’re calling people who’ve had first doses to schedule second shots.
Of course, many of us ignore calls from numbers we don’t recognize—or even block them.
“We know it is scary for people to answer ‘spam’ calls, but we do encourage people to pick up when they get a call from the 833 number,” a WVU Medicine spokesperson says. The caller ID is 833.795.7468—that’s WVU Medicine’s “shot number,” 833.795.SHOT.
If you get a message to call back, she adds, it’s likely only good for that day because the call center is only staffed on some days.
The Joint Vaccination Project, which formed in late January, streamlined the vaccination program in the county. The Monongalia County Health Department administered 7,000 doses in the six weeks from mid-December to the end of January, says MCHD Executive Director Dr. Lee Smith, and 8,000 doses have been administered in the less than three weeks since then, with another 2,500 shots already scheduled for Friday, February 19.
Using volunteers from all five organizations, the partnership is nimbly responsive to the number of doses received from the state at any given time. “It’s a bit of an accordion, and we can increase and decrease as need be,” Smith says.
Once most of the people 65 and up have been vaccinated in Monongalia County, remaining health care and other essential workers will be at the front of the line, Smith says, and general community vaccination will follow. The timeline will depend on the flow of doses from the federal government to the state and from the state to the county.
With regard to the new, more transmissible strains of the virus, Smith says some DNA sequencing is being conducted on virus samples taken in Monongalia County. He’s not aware yet of any mutations discovered in West Virginia. “But we know there are variants documented in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky”—so if they’re not here today, they will be soon. Whether the virus will mutate beyond the effectiveness of the current vaccines is the $64,000 question, he says, but fewer than five people in the United States are known to have contracted COVID-19 after being vaccinated, and their cases were mild, so the vaccines appear to be doing the job so far.
One piece of good news: As anticipated and hoped, the number of cases of influenza A and B this season is extremely low.
Smith emphasizes a couple points:
- The biggest optimists suggest things could be relatively normal by the 4th of July, but most are looking to fall. So keep wearing your mask, washing your hands, and distancing, because we’ve got a ways to go.
- If you think you may have been exposed, you still need to get tested—it’s crucial for helping health officials minimize the spread. “The Health Department offers free, no-cost community testing on Mondays and Fridays at the WVU Rec Center from 9 to 11 a.m., and results come back the same day,” Smith says.
The state encourages everyone ages 16 and up to pre-register for a vaccine at vaccinate.wv.gov or at 1.833.734.0965. It may be days, weeks, or months from now, but a WVU Medicine phone banker will contact you to schedule an appointment when your cohort is in line and a vaccine becomes available for you—answer that call when it comes.