Health officials: best defense is a good offense, get vaccinated

To help encourage vaccinations, Governor Justice announced second round of sweepstakes

TAYLOR COUNTY—As COVID woes continue to plague the community, health officials remain diligent in their battle against the virus.

On Friday morning, Grafton Taylor County Health Department Threat Preparedness Coordinator Shawn Thorn revealed that the county was currently reporting 60 confirmed, active cases of the Coronavirus. 

“We have had a very busy week,” he voiced. “Our infection rate on the state website is a 33.37 percent, but that is not quite an accurate rate. The state also shows us as at a six percent.”

However, he noted that the percent positivity that the health department was experiencing through their testing via QLabs was running an average of 22-24 percent, much higher than the state’s reported number.

“Our two outbreaks are still ongoing,” Thorn divulged. “The Blueville Church of the Nazarene meeting has yielded 19 positive infections and Little Feet is up to nine cases. But luckily, we have not had any additional, so that is good news there.”

And with an increase in positive cases, he revealed that additional booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, both Moderna and Pfizer, are now available for certain individuals.

“We are able to give a third shot to people who are actively or have been recently treated for solid tumors, organ transplants and taking immunosuppressive therapies,” Thorn explained. “Those who are recipients of T-Cells, Stem Cell transplants, have moderate or severe immunodeficiency disorders and those taking equal to or more than 20 milligrams of Prednisone a day are all eligible, as well.”

Taylor County Health Officer Doctor David Bender added that individuals who are on certain medications, such as long-term chemotherapy medications, would also be eligible for the third dose of the vaccine.

And while that list only contains a small number of individuals, there is a target date set for September 20 for individuals who were inoculated during the first round of vaccine rollouts who are now at least eight months fully vaccinated, to receive their third dose.

“This will include our fire, police, EMS personnel and health care workers,” Thorn reported. “So, there hasn’t been any word yet on how that will happen, but they have set that target date.”

Bender shared that the vaccine is the best defense against the virus, which is often hard to tell without testing if it is present.

“It’s so difficult with the Delta variant because the symptoms they often present with initially like stuffy nose, cough, congestion, sore throat are the same that we see with hay fever,” he shared. “So we have seen a lot of people who think they have COVID that just have hay fever and vice versa.”

Thorn commented that the third dosage of the vaccine would be identical to the shots individuals received during prior vaccinations.

And to help reward those who have undergone vaccinations and encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated to do so, Governor Jim Justice on Friday announced a second round of the “Do it for Babydog: Save a Life, Change Your Life” sweepstakes.

“We will try to incentivize more and more to get across the finish line,” Justice voiced. “We are going to have a little more fun with this in hopes of getting more individuals vaccinated and across the finish line.”

For six weeks, beginning on August 31 and occurring each Tuesday thereafter, Justice will announce the winners of some new and exciting prizes, including luxury sports cars, scholarships, ATV side-by-sides, zero-turn lawnmowers, fishing boats, dream weddings, free gas for ten years and sporting tickets. 

Registration opens on Monday, August 23, and those who registered for the first round of the sweepstakes will need to register once again. Any West Virginia resident who has received at least one vaccine dose is eligible to register.

Individuals may contact the health department at 304-265-1288, Grafton City Hospital at 304-265-0400, Preston Taylor Pharmacy at 304-265-7400 or their personal care provider to undergo vaccination.