TAYLOR COUNTY—In the battle against the COVID-19 virus, Taylor County health officials continue to work to dole out vaccines that could potentially save lives.
According to Grafton-Taylor County Health Department Threat Preparedness Coordinator Shawn Thorn, the department wrapped up their most recent round of vaccinations of individuals 80 years of age or older on Saturday.
“We do not have any word on when we may receive additional doses, other than what we are calling our booster doses, which are the second round of the shots,” Thorn explained. “We do know that there are regional events being scheduled to help vaccinate those in that age group.”
He disclosed that there would be events in both Harrison and Monongalia Counties in the near future, and residents could take part in those.
Testing through the Operation Save Our Wisdom initiative will take place this week. The Harrison County Clinic will be held tomorrow, Thursday, January 14, from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., at the Nathan Goff Armory, located at 5 Armory Road, Clarksburg, WV 26301.
This clinic will be operated by appointment only. Those wishing to take part may call the Harrison County COVID Vaccine Hotline at 304-423-7969.
The Monongalia County Clinic will also be held on Thursday, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at the West Virginia Army National Guard Morgantown Readiness Center, located at 90 Army Band Way, Morgantown, WV 26508.
Again, those wishing to take part must schedule an appointment by calling the Monongalia County Health Department at 304-598-5100.
These clinics are not being held by the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department, so all questions should be directed to the aforementioned phone numbers.
In an attempt to help vaccinate those who are the most vulnerable to the virus, he said that the local health department has submitted a request to have a similar event held in Taylor County.
“We are waiting to hear back whether or not our request will be fulfilled,” he said. “That decision will come down from the state, but as soon as we hear something, we will be sure to get it out to the public.”
In order to be able to host a large-scale vaccination effort, health departments must be able to inoculate at least 500 individuals per day of the event.
“We feel totally confident that we would be able to do so,” Thorn expressed. “Especially after seeing the success of how our crews worked at the high school during the recent vaccination of the teachers.”
While the distribution and delivery of vials of the much-needed vaccine is determined by the state, leaving local health departments unsure of their arrival date, health officials noted that residents who had received their initial dose of the vaccine would receive their second round.
“We have been assured that those doses would be delivered for patients,” Thorn said. “When someone receives their initial vaccination, they are entered into the Vaccine Administration Management System, and once that first shot is recorded, and an appointment for a second shot is scheduled, the inventory is supposed to be pre-allocated and reserved for that booster shot. So far, that has been the case.”
He reported that thus far, the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department has had no issue with receiving dosages for a patient’s second, or booster, shot.
Thorn also clarified that there is little to no waiting time for residents to receive an immunization after being diagnosed as COVID-19 positive and being cleared of the virus.
“Individuals must wait until they are cleared from their isolation or quarantine period before they will be permitted to be vaccinated,” he explained. “That is true for both a person positive and those people who have been in direct contact with a person positive. Once you have been released, the Centers for Disease Control says you are clear for vaccination.”
Those with questions about the vaccine or its availability are asked to please not call the health department, but instead to call the Governor’s COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line, at 1-833-734-0965, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
While residents are arming themselves against contracting the virus, those who have already been infected will soon have another option for treatment.
Dr. David Bender reported that COVID positive patients who were experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, who had other risk factors but were not sick enough to be hospitalized, will soon have the option of treatment through Bamlanivimab, or Bam as it is commonly referred to by health officials.
In November, the United State Food and Drug Administration issued and emergency use authorization for Bam. It is a monoclonal antibody therapy that has been shown to reduce the rate of hospitalization in COVID-19 positive cases.
“Hopefully we will be able to start using therapy with Bam by mid-week,” Bender revealed. “This is really our first real preventive type treatment, and while it is not FDA approved, it is sanctioned by the National Institute of Health and the FDA and is being used all across the country now. There is no reason we shouldn’t be using it, because it has proven to be both safe and effective.”
The Grafton-Taylor County Health Department is continuing to provide free COVID-19 testing for individuals from noon to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, at their mobile testing site, located in the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Grafton. The church is located on US Route 119 South, just outside of Grafton.
Testing will be conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis.