Vaccination Drive in Ohio County To See Youth Movement
WHEELING — Ohio County officials are making plans to scale back COVID vaccination opportunities for adults, and to focus instead on inoculating school-age youths.
The move comes as federal officials indicate they could move as soon as next week to authorize Pfizer-brand COVID vaccinations as safe for children as young as 12. Presently the vaccine is available only to those age 16 or older.
Ohio County Emergency Services Director Lou Vargo informed county commissioners this week the Ohio County Health Department’s vaccination center at The Highlands likely will scale back its operations by the end of the month to two days a week, and that the health department is planning to instead organize vaccination clinics in the evening at local schools.
“That is the goal, but that won’t occur later this month,” said County Health Administrator Howard Gamble.
The vaccination clinic at The Highlands is presently open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Beginning the last week of May, we will probably scale back to three days (a week),” Gamble said. “Starting in June, we will probably scale back to two days.”
He said the County Health Department is now just awaiting the announcement from the CDC authorizing the administration of the Pfizer vaccine to people as young as 12. After this, the West Virginia Department of Health must approve of the county’s tentative plan to vaccinate youths.
In addition, the County Health Department has developed a tentative plan with Ohio County Schools to inoculate eligible youths in the county. Students in private and parochial schools also would be invited to participate, according to Gamble.
Scheduled vaccination clinics at schools would take place not during the day, but in the evening from 4-7 p.m.
Specific schools will be selected as sites for the clinics, and students and their families living in neighborhoods near that school will be invited to participate. The clinics would be open to all students — including public, private and parochial schools, and those who are homeschooled, according to Gamble.
As an example, he said a clinic scheduled for Bridge Street Middle School also would include students attending Triadelphia Middle School and St. Vincent de Paul School.
“We are picking locations where there will not be a long travel distance and are in common areas,” Gamble said.
He said the county has plenty of vaccines “in cold storage” to cover the initial need for vaccinating youths, and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will push out more vaccines after the CDC authorizes the Pfizer vaccine safe for those as young as 12.
“More information will come from the schools and the County Health Department when and if we are looking to do vaccines for kids,” Gamble said.