GTCHD offering free flu vaccines in conjunction with free COVID testing

TAYLOR COUNTY—During the weekly COVID-19 update call, health officials were happy to report that as of Friday morning, the county had not had any new positive cases to report.

“We have seen a slightly less eventful week as last week, as far as confusion and anxiety,” voiced Grafton-Taylor County Health Department (GTCHD) Threat Preparedness Coordinator Shawn Thorn. “We are keeping an average of 60 people a day coming through the daily free COVID testing, and we have seen less positives this week.”

He said that it was great news on the community level, however, they have seen more cases rising within the southwestern end of the county.

“We have 11 active cases in the Flemington area, but some of those have bled in from Harrison and Barbour County outbreaks,” he noted.

As of Friday morning, Taylor County’s case count was at 148 total positives, with 14 active and 126 cases in recovery.

“Next week, in conjunction with the drive thru testing, we are going to be adding in free flu vaccinations,” Thorn revealed. “This will be open to anyone wishing to arm themselves against yet another sometimes deadly virus.”

Officials from the GTCHD are encouraging residents to take advantage of this service that will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the drive thru site at First Baptist Church, as a way to combat the illness this year, especially in the face of the continuing Coronavirus pandemic.

“Folks can choose which services they would like to undergo at the site,” said GTCHD Administrator Boyd Vanhorn. “They can opt for either the free COVID testing or the free flu vaccinations, or they can undergo both. This is free, easy and convenient. The best defense is a complete defense this year!”

He revealed that this type of administration of the vaccine comes on the heels of a recommendation from the state’s health leaders, as a way to afford health officials an opportunity to protect more residents from both illnesses.

The vaccinations are being offered through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, and currently the department has approximately 200 free vaccinations on hand.

“The state has already given us the go ahead for this type of event, and they have committed to providing as many vaccinations that we need,” Thorn disclosed. “I just want to reiterate the importance of getting the vaccine this year. Individuals can contract both the flu and COVID at the same time, and the effects could be really, really bad.”

He said by administering the flu vaccinations, it was their hope that they could help protect more individuals from an increased potential for health complications.

Vanhorn noted that those wishing to undergo the vaccination portion of the drive thru site should wear either a short-sleeved shirt or a shirt that is easily pulled up to receive their shots. In addition, they will need to bring with them a form of identification.

“Again, just as with the COVID testing, these vaccinations will be performed on a first-come, first-serve basis for residents,” he added.

In addition, the GTCHD will also still be making appointments for those individuals who are not able to attend the free vaccination drive thru, however, if a patient has insurance, it will be billed.

“Regardless of whether someone has insurance or not, they will not have to pay out of pocket for the shot, and it will be given at no cost to the patient,” Vanhorn reported. “The reason behind the shots being administered for free at the drive thru site is that the state has recognized it would be harder for us to obtain insurance information for billing on the fly, so they are allowing us to offer the shots completely free of charge when doing so in the drive thru manner.”

Those wishing to schedule an appointment to receive a flu vaccine or individuals with questions may call the GTCHD at 304-265-1288.

Dr. David Bender also reported that Grafton City Hospital will be offering a drive thru flu vaccination clinic, but this too, will not be free of charge.

“Insurance will be billed for those who take part in this event, scheduled for Saturday, October 17, from 9:00-11:00 a.m.,” he commented. “I would encourage everyone to take advantage of any of these vaccination administering events.”