Walgreens starts shots for those on state list
by Kate Evans
The number of Morgan County residents receiving COVID-19 vaccines has risen with the Morgan County Health Department vaccination clinic doses being increased to 300 doses from 200 doses.
Walgreens in Berkeley Springs has also started to provide COVID-19 vaccines to residents using the waiting list from the state vaccine pre-registration list.
Berkeley-Morgan County Health Department Health Officer Dr. Kevin McLaughlin said they vaccinated more than 300 Morgan County residents for COVID-19 at a vaccination clinic last Saturday, February 13 at Berkeley Springs High School. Nurses vaccinated over 200 people at a clinic held the previous weekend. The minimum amount of vaccine doses counties are receiving went up from 200 to 300, he said.
McLaughlin said there’s no way to know how many Morgan County residents have gotten their COVID-19 vaccinations so far, either their first dose or both doses. There are just too many lists — county lists and the state lists, he noted.
Weekly county clinics
Governor Jim Justice mandated community COVID-19 vaccination clinics in all 55 counties each week.
Dr. McLaughlin said here they will continue to use the Health Department’s county waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine and then move on to the state’s vaccine preregistration list. He said health officials are vaccinating only those age 65 or older right now.
As to how people are selected from the list for vaccines, Dr. McLaughlin believed it was just a call-down list that moves to the next person in line.
McLaughlin said that things have gone well at the county COVID-19 vaccination clinics. There have been no serious reactions to the vaccine. Paramedics and an ambulance are on scene at the clinic as a precaution.
Dr. McLaughlin said that the vaccination clinics use whatever vaccine brand the state allots them. Last weekend in Morgan County, residents received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. In Berkeley County, they gave the Pfizer vaccine. McLaughlin hopes that the vaccine supply will increase.
By appointment only
COVID-19 vaccination clinics are taking place the week of February 15-21 for West Virginians age 65 and older in all counties. McLaughlin said the day and location for the Morgan County clinic are still being decided.
Vaccines at all county clinics in West Virginia are by appointment only.
All the clinics are full since they are using existing wait lists. Individuals will be contacted if they’re chosen for an available vaccine slot in their area, said DHHR officials.
Vaccines are limited and no walk-ins will be accepted.
West Virginia residents can continue to pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine through the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System at www.vaccinate.wv.gov. All West Virginians over age 16 can pre-register through the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-registration System.
Those who need assistance with pre-registration or have questions should call the COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line at 1-833-734-0965. The information line is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Walgreens aids state effort
Walgreens in Berkeley Springs has just begun providing COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible Morgan County residents that have pre-registered for the vaccinations on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system.
Vaccinations are by appointment only. Walgreens won’t provide COVID-19 vaccinations on a walk-in basis at this time.
Governor Jim Justice announced a West Virginia partnership with Walgreens through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to West Virginia residents age 65 and older as well as state healthcare workers.
Through the partnership the state is scheduled to get up to 5,800 additional COVID-19 vaccine doses a week initially.
State officials will work with Walgreens to use the new state vaccine pre-registration system to offer appointments to eligible individuals to be vaccinated at select Walgreens locations.
Vaccinations at Walgreens locations began February 12.
One vaccine account
One Berkeley Springs resident got an email and a text on Friday telling her she was in line for a COVID-19 vaccination and that Walgreens would be calling her shortly. Walgreens called Friday morning and set up her vaccine appointment for Saturday morning.
She said she went into Walgreens Saturday morning, filled out her paperwork and got her shot, which was the Moderna vaccine. There was a couple there also waiting for their shots. Appointments were being scheduled 15 minutes apart to monitor clients for any reactions to the shots.
Her shot went well, the girl who gave it was very nice and she didn’t feel the shot. She got a light headache from the vaccination and slept all afternoon because of how tired she became. Her arm was also sore from the shot.
The resident had gone online and signed up on the West Virginia vaccine list on January 26 and they got back to her right away to confirm her preregistration, she said. It happened pretty quickly.
Pharmacist Ken Reed of Reed’s Pharmacy in Berkeley Springs said it’s unclear at this time whether the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program would be expanded to include their pharmacy chain so they could also provide COVID-19 vaccines to West Virginians age 65 and older like Walgreens and CVS are.
Right now, they’re excluded from participating. Reed is hoping that regulations will relax a little as the vaccine dose supply keeps rising and that smaller hometown pharmacies will be included in the program.
Reed’s Pharmacy is still getting COVID-19 vaccines for clinics at long-term care facilities and also for the Morgan County Board of Education for school personnel, Reed said. They’re finishing up schools and second dose vaccine shots. Reed’s Pharmacy staff has also been helping to give shots at the Morgan County Health Department COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Reed said he believed that between the Health Department, Walgreens and Reed’s Pharmacy, health officials could vaccinate the whole county in a week or two — vaccinating everyone that wanted a COVID-19 vaccine — if they had enough vaccines. They’re doing the best they can to bring as much COVID-19 vaccine to Morgan County and to maximize the number of vaccine doses.
State vaccine numbers
As of presstime, West Virginia had administered 250,646 first COVID-19 vaccine doses. Some 140,540 West Virginia residents are now fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease.