Health department to shift vaccination focus to students

Kanawha-Charleston Health Department shifts vaccine efforts
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 3:40 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has announced they are shifting their vaccination efforts to eligible students and other groups.

They made the announcement Monday after the highest number of school outbreaks the county has seen at one time since the pandemic began was reported by the health department.

On Tuesday, KCHD and the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority are going to work with Kanawha County Schools, Charleston Area Medical Center, West Virginia Health Right and the Charleston Fire Department to provide COVID-19 vaccines to students age 16 and up in all eight Kanawha County high schools.

There are more clinics planned for students at Charleston Catholic High School and the University of Charleston.

“We’re changing our strategy to vaccinate in the groups where we continue to see COVID-19 spread. Unfortunately, we continue to see high numbers of cases and outbreaks in our schools, mostly related to sports, so that’s one of the places we want to focus our efforts,” said Dr. Sherri Young, health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 will hopefully be minimized for parents like Betsy Shaak, following the health department’s announcement to vaccinate students.

“These high school kids are constantly in fear that they will get [COVID-19],” Shaak said. “[They’re worried] they will get it, [and] then spread it to their classmates or teammates.”

Shaak’s teenage daughter is the only one in her family still waiting to get vaccinated. She’s among the close to 700 students in Kanawha County (including adult students) who school officials say have shown interest in receiving the vaccine.

“It’s just light at the end of the tunnel to be able to be vaccinated and hopefully get back to normalcy,” Shaak added.

Student vaccinations start Tuesday, with extra clinics planned at Charleston Catholic High School and the University of Charleston.

The health department will also be back at the Roosevelt Community Center this week to provide vaccinations for four primarily African-American groups.

The health department says vaccinating people over 65 years of age is still a priority. If you are age 65 or older and haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine, you can call the clinic at 304-348-8080 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and get a same-day appointment.

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