Vaccine distribution in Kanawha rolling along at mass clinics

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics for senior citizens and first responders continue in Kanawha County and health officials see no end in sight with the pent up demand for a shot.

James Mason, the COVID-19 Emergency Manager for Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD) told 580-WCHS that Wednesday’s clinic at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention was another example of the health department selling out of 500 slots for a vaccine in one hour after the clinic was announced.

The day before a clinic has been scheduled, KCHD workers will open a time for citizens 80 years of age and older that want a vaccine to call in and reserve a slot.

Mason said there are around 7,000 citizens in the county 80 years of age and older that have yet to receive the vaccine.

“We do not know whether or not those folks want the vaccine or not,” Mason said. “But with 500 people calling in in an hour and 15 minutes and 12 call takers scheduling them for appointments. We know we have demand.”

Gov. Jim Justice announced on Wednesday during his daily COVID-19 briefing that residents 70 years of age and older will now be able to receive the vaccine.

Mason said that changes things for the KCHD and partners including the Kanawha County Commission the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority. He noted that the health department first heard about the change when it was announced and has yet to finalize how many more citizens are now eligible for the vaccine.

But he remains confident in leadership starting with KCHD Executive Director Dr. Sherri Young to get this done efficiently.

“She (Young) is getting international phone calls asking her how we are doing it at the speed we are doing it and at the efficiencies where we have had zero failures. We have not made a mistake where we have hurt a patient,” Mason said.

Jonathan Evans of the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority prepares doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at Wednesday’s vaccination clinic

Vaccines will remain to be by appointment only when announced a clinic is scheduled. Those who wish to make an appointment should call 304-357-5157.

“As Woody Williams says, ‘you have to serve a call greater than yourself.’ That’s what every one of our first responders, every one of our staff at the health department, KCEAA, the county. They are serving a cause greater than themselves,” Mason said of the workers.

“We will be in the history books.”

There is a vaccination event in Kanawha County Friday hosted by the state’s Joint Inter-Agency Task Force. Gov. Jim Justice announced the event at Cabin Creek Clinic at Riverside High School as part of the state’s Operation Save Our Wisdom.

The event goes from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Belle and is already booked with appointments.

Story by Jake Flatley