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Vaccination Plan in the Works in Ohio County for Those 80 and Up

WHEELING — The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is putting together a measured plan to offer vaccines to those age 80 and older, the department’s administrator said.

After Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that the state would now start giving vaccines to West Virginia residents 80 and older, it set off different reactions in different parts of the state. In Charleston, residents lined up outside the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department on Wednesday afternoon waiting for a vaccine.

The Hancock County Health Department said it would hold a vaccine clinic for those who reserve a spot beforehand on Friday with 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine. That event will go from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the JDR Career Center main lobby. Those 80 and older must call 304-564-3343 ahead of time to reserve a spot on the list.

In Ohio County, WOCHD Administrator Howard Gamble said his department received 100 doses of the vaccine as did every other county in West Virginia.

Ohio County’s first goal will be to vaccinate those who live communal senior living facilities for those 80 and older that don’t fall under the categories of assisted living or long-term care facilities, such as Mount Saint Joseph in Wheeling and the Home for Men in Warwood. Vaccines will be given to people at those facilities only, not the general public.

After that, Gamble said, the department will move to the next group. He said the department will announce the times and locations of clinics when they are decided upon. While such clinics may be first come, first served as Justice advised, Gamble said the department could consider other ways to get vaccines to those seniors.

“We may have to, in this county, go to people,” he said. “We’ve got a little bit of planning. As more vaccine comes in, we know we may have to send staff out to vaccinate. But it would be a whole lot easier on a mass scale that if it’s at a location and you get it.”

A mass-vaccination clinic would be more efficient, Gamble said, but he still wants to keep people among the highest risk for infection both safe and comfortable as they wait for those vaccines.

“You’re still having people stand,” he said. “And if you’re 80 and older, standing inside or outside, it’s still a problem. We also know that everyone 80 and older can’t drive to a clinic.”

Ohio County broke the chain of Northern Panhandle counties in “red,” the highest-risk category, on Thursday’s Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 alert map. Ohio County moved to “orange” on Thursday’s map, while Hancock, Brooke and Marshall Counties remained in “red.”

Ohio County had an infection rate of 47.95 cases per 100,000 residents and a percent positivity of 7.74 on Thursday’s map. Hancock County had an infection rate of 79.83 cases per 100,000 residents and a percent positivity of 17.58. Brooke County had an infection rate of 94.42 cases per 100,000 residents and a percent positivity of 16.49. Marshall County had an infection rate of 54.75 cases per 100,000 residents and a percent positivity of 10.41.

Updated daily COVID-19 numbers for Marshall and Ohio counties were not available as of Thursday afternoon.

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