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MOV Health Department seeks arms for shots

PARKERSBURG — In late January, Vienna resident Hal Foss, who is in his 70s, was concerned because he and his wife hadn’t received calls to schedule their COVID-19 vaccinations.

They waited several weeks after registering on a local list without getting a response and also signed up with the state. In mid-February, they contacted a Vienna pharmacy and found there were shots available.

“We both went down and got a shot from Walgreens, and then the following Thursday we got a call from the state,” Foss said.

The Fosses’ experience wasn’t unique, as demand greatly outpaced supply for the vaccine in the early part of 2021. But as older and higher-risk individuals received their shots and eligibility expanded to all West Virginians 16 and up, getting an appointment got a lot easier.

After contacting people on local and state waiting lists for months, the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department is still making appointments but has also welcomed walk-ins at two recent clinics.

“The demand is down. We’re having difficulty filling clinics at this time,” said Carrie Brainard, threat preparedness coordinator for the MOVHD, which serves Wood, Wirt, Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie and Roane counties. “Nothing has gone to waste. It’s just getting more difficult to find the people to take it.”

The April 23 and 29 clinics saw “a couple dozen” walk-ins, but “not a great influx of people,” she said.

The department is looking at other avenues to encourage vaccinations and make the process easier for people. They recently administered doses to 10 homebound individuals and plan to do more of that, Brainard said. Also under consideration are evening and pop-up clinics that might be more accessible or setting up and administering shots at interested businesses.

The department also is receiving the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine again after the lifting of a government-mandated pause to assess the risk of a rare type of blood clot.

“There have been several people that have said that is what they want to have,” Brainard said.

A clinic where the J&J vaccine will be administered is planned for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 12, at South Parkersburg Baptist Church.

If demand for the shots continues to decrease, the department will start to receive fewer doses, Brainard said.

Some pharmacies are allowing walk-ins for vaccinations as well.

Walmart issued a press release Tuesday saying all of its locations nationwide, including 43 Walmart and Sam’s Club sites in West Virginia, are administering vaccines for customers with appointments and walk-ups. People can register for appointments at walmart.com/COVIDvaccine and samsclub.com/covid. A person does not have to be a member to receive a vaccine at Sam’s Club, whose pharmacies are closed on Sundays.

Rite-Aid announced last week it is administering vaccines at all of its locations. While it’s recommended that people sign up for an appointment at www.riteaid.com/covid-19 to reduce wait time and ensure availability of the vaccine, stores are accommodating walk-ins on a limited basis, the release said.

According to Tuesday’s update from the state Department of Health and Human Resources, 649,834 West Virginians have been fully vaccinated. That’s 36.3 percent of the population. Nearly 790,000 have received at least one dose.

The number of people fully vaccinated in local counties and the percentage of the population are: Calhoun, 1,618, 22.8; Doddridge, 3,296, 39; Gilmer, 1,887, 24.1; Jackson, 8,922, 31.2; Pleasants, 2,270, 30.4; Ritchie, 2,817, 29.5; Roane, 3,955, 28.9; Tyler, 2,285, 26.6; Wetzel, 5,163, 34.3; Wirt, 1,506, 25.9; Wood, 24,783, 29.7.

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