by Kate Shunney
As of early this week, Morgan County’s vaccination rate was second from the bottom of West Virginia’s 55 counties. Only Mingo County, on the south border of the state, has a lower rate of vaccination for their residents.
On Monday, October 11, 29.9% of Morgan County’s population of 17,884 residents had received full vaccination against COVID-19.
The highly-contagious respiratory disease has claimed the lives of 36 county residents since March of 2020. The number of resident deaths doubled in six months — from 18 at the start of April to 36 on October 1. Many of the most recent deaths have been tied to an outbreak at the local Stonerise nursing home.
The highest rates of vaccination in Morgan County have been seen in the age group above the age of 70. In that group, 58.9% of the local population has been full vaccinated against COVID. That group was the first segment of local residents who could get the shot.
Vaccination rates drop as age ranges drop, according to the West Virginia DHHR COVID data site.
Locally, just 24.7% of residents age 41 to 50 have gotten vaccinated against the disease. In the student age group, 12.7% of youth ages 12 to 15 have been vaccinated. There is no approved vaccine for children under the age of 12 at this time.
In Mingo County, just 26.8% of the county’s residents have received the vaccine.
The highest vaccination rate in West Virginia in among residents of Kanawha County, where the state capital of Charleston is located. There, 56.3% of the county population is fully vaccinated, according to DHHR data.
At the state level, Governor Jim Justice has repeatedly said that receiving the COVID vaccine is the best way for residents of the state to protect themselves against the respiratory infection and the possibility of being hospitalized or dying from the disease. West Virginia’s population, which is statistically older and less healthy than most states in the U.S., is particularly vulnerable to harsh cases of COVID.
A total of 253,895 state residents have had the disease since last March. According to the DHHR, 3,976 deaths in the state have been attributed to COVID-19 to date.
Statewide, 50% of West Virginia’s 1.79 million residents are fully vaccinated against the disease. According to the CDC, 65.6% of the U.S. population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated at this point. Different sources report that figure differently.