I got my first shot this morning—easy peasy.
The vaccine program is ramping up fast. The state lowered the threshold age from 65 to 50 last week. And doses are on their way.
“The vaccine is coming to us in much bigger numbers than it was to begin with,” says WVU Medicine Chief Pharmacy Officer Todd Karpinski, who coordinates the distribution of and administration of the vaccine.
I pre-registered online on Tuesday and, this morning, I got my first shot at the Greater Monongalia County COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in the old Sears store at the Morgantown Mall. It was free and easy. The WVU Medicine registered nurse who gave me my shot, Amy Guidi, was enjoying every minute. “In my 40 years, this is the best thing I’ve been part of.”
Here’s how it works, based on my after-the-first-shot view of the process:
- Pre-register at vaccinate.wv.gov. If you need help pre-registering, you can call 1-833-734-0965.
- When a shot becomes available for you, you’ll be contacted by the method you specify on pre-registration. Doses arrive in Morgantown on Tuesdays, Karpinski says, so scheduling for the week starts then. If you specify phone as your preference, the caller ID will appear as Vaccinate WV or 1.833.734.0965. Emails will come from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, firstname.lastname@example.org, and text messages will show the sender ID as 88911.
- Take an ID to your scheduled appointment. If you’ll need a second shot—remember, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses and the coming Johnson & Johnson requires only one—it will be scheduled for you at that time. Wearing a short-sleeved shirt will guarantee your vaccination is completely painless. Or at least it’ll be quick and easy.
- You’ll receive a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Complete that card and take it to your follow-up appointment—keeping track of who’s had which vaccine when is a massive logistics effort, and that little card makes it a lot easier.
Although the shot is free, if you accept an appointment at a participating pharmacy, you may be charged a small administration fee.
This is a pretty well-oiled machine already, but there is one potential source of confusion to be prepared for: In their early efforts to prepare for the vaccination program, WVU Medicine, the Monongalia County Health Department, and other entities started generating contact lists of people to be vaccinated. While we’re in this ramp-up period, those multiple lists are still getting reconciled. So you may be contacted more than once for an appointment.
“We’re all trying to build the car as we’re driving it, here,” Karpinski says. “You may receive multiple communications, but if you have a confirmed, scheduled appointment, just keep that appointment.” You can ignore or opt out of subsequent communications, he says.
The best first thing to do, he says, is go ahead and pre-register. “Get on the list, and you’ll be contacted. It’ll probably be sooner rather than later, knowing that the criteria have opened up and there are more and more doses available every week.”