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COVID-19 vaccine clinics held for W.Va. health care workers

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 6:15 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Vaccination clinics are being held across West Virginia on Friday and Saturday for frontline health care workers who were previously left out of the COVID-19 vaccine process.

Gov. Jim Justice says the state plans to protect 12,000 people who have previously missed out on getting an appointment because they were not part of a larger hospital system or there was not enough doses available for them.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is planning to vaccinate 3,500 people during the two days, Dr. Sherri Young said. Priority is being given to physicians, nurses, medical staff, dental offices and physical therapy, occupational and speech therapy. If there are additional doses available, the health department will begin calling people over the age of 65 who tried to get an appointment at a previous clinic but it was filled.

“These are the people that are helping us through the crisis, getting people better,” Young said. “Just knowing they are safe in their jobs, that gives us an extra sense of security that we are going to get through this.”

Young said the goal is to find people who might have fallen through the cracks during the initial vaccine rollout to health care workers. That includes people like Melissa Welch, a nurse practitioner who has been scheduled for other clinics but was not able to get a shot due to the vaccine shortage.

“We’re exposed daily,” Welch said. “We test daily. We have positive patients daily. This is an opportunity for us one, keep ourselves safe, and keep the public safe, as well.”

Welch said it was an easy process to get vaccinated on Friday. She was able to register online in the federal health care worker vaccination system, show up at the Charleston Coliseum and get her shot.

Similar programs are being held in 14 other counties across West Virginia, including in Cabell County, where the health department vaccinated hundreds of people on Friday.

“I was excited and nervous all at the same time when I found out just an hour ago that it was available to us right now,” certified nursing assistant Melinda Warren said. “It didn’t hurt at all. It was quick and easy. Basically painless.”

Warren said the extra piece of mind of finally having a vaccine will make her more comfortable going into the homes of the elderly people she works for.

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