Accelerate Vaccine For Elderly in Panhandle

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in West Virginia has been among the best in the nation and the world. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas for improvement, particularly closer to home as some elderly residents — those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 — continue to wait for their shot.

Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties are home to 21,727 residents aged 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s just shy of 23% of those four counties’ total population.

One of the most important items we’ve learned during this past year of COVID-19 is that those aged 65 and older are the most vulnerable to the virus. West Virginia moved quickly late last year to go against the initial federal guidelines and prioritize older residents to receive the vaccine. That move saved lives. But we can — and must — do better in our local counties with getting the most vulnerable vaccinated now.

According to numbers Friday from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, just 29.3% of residents 65 and older in Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ohio County has 9,200 residents older than 65; 2,838, or 30.8%, are fully vaccinated. In Marshall County, where 7,022 residents are 65 or older, the number fully vaccinated is 1,672, or 23.8%.

Wetzel County has 1,350 of its 3,495 residents over 65 fully vaccinated, 38.6%. And Tyler has 522 of its 2,010 65 and older residents vaccinated, about 26%.

The number of those who have received their first shot is growing. In Ohio County, on top of those fully vaccinated, another 2,095 residents 65 and older have their first shot; in Marshall, the number is 1,805. Those residents soon will have a full measure of protection.

Again, much good work has been done, but plenty remains in the fight against COVID-19.


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