Vaccine waiting list narrows; COVID cases rise again

Volunteers Lori Kiley, Rob and Debra Gaydos make phone calls to schedule Morgan County residents for local vaccine clinics. Not pictured but present is volunteer Jim Hoyt.

by Kate Shunney

As active cases of COVID-19 in Morgan County continue to spike up over the last two weeks, the wait to get vaccinated against the highly-contagious respiratory disease has shrunken from months to days. All adults are now eligible to receive the vaccine that can protect them from being infected by the disease.

At press time, there were 94 residents actively infected by COVID-19. That number is up from 78 cases the previous week. Morgan County is now orange on the state’s COVID Alert Map, indicating a high rate of spread in the community.

Morgan County residents who are 16 years or older and want to receive the COVID-19 vaccination have a much shorter wait time to take that step.

Volunteers and staff with the Morgan County Health Department and Office of Emergency Services (OES) have cut through a waiting list of roughly 8,000 people who registered for the vaccine, either through the state system or another method.

“Over the course of two months, we have exhausted all our efforts to reach those people,” said Morgan County OES Director Dick Myers. “We typically have four to six people each week making phone calls to people on this list.”

Residents who want to set up their vaccination should call 304-500-2081 – the county’s vaccine appointment number — and leave a message with their name and a callback number.

Someone will return that call and set up a first vaccine appointment. First shots can often be set up that same week.

As of Monday, 5,082 doses of the vaccine have been administered to Morgan County residents, according to the West Virginia DHHR COVID map. Another Health Department vaccination clinic was running on Monday at Warm Springs Intermediate School while schools were closed for Spring Break.

According to state records, 621 doses of the vaccine were given locally on March 27. Some residents are receiving their vaccinations through Walgreens or Reed’s Pharmacy, as well as the Health Department clinic.

Recently, the vaccine has been made available to local teens aged 16-17. Myers said more than 70 county teens have now received their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.

Public health officials have said widespread vaccinations will be a key part of ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions in public activity that have come with it.

Nurses and volunteers staff a Morgan County vaccine clinic on Monday, April 5 at Warm Springs Intermediate School.
Photos courtesy of Dick Myers