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Vaccination event set at Senior Center

ELKINS — Doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to Randolph County residents age 80 and above by appointment only today through Saturday at the Randolph County Senior Center.

The Wednesday and Thursday vaccinations were announced last week. The Randolph-Elkins Health Department has received an additional 150 doses of the vaccine this week which led to the vaccination event being extended to Friday and Saturday, officials said.

“The Senior Center doesn’t get the shipments of vaccine doses,” Laura Ward, executive director of the Randolph County Senior Center, said Tuesday afternoon. “The Randolph-Elkins Health Department receives the shipments. We’re just facilitating, as we have more space. So we’re glad to help out by providing the space and doing the scheduling of appointments.”

When the Wednesday and Thursday vaccinations were announced last week, the Senior Center’s phone system was flooded with calls.

“We made 100 appointments in an hour and a half,” Ward said, noting that a dedicated phone line has now been added for appointments. Anyone wishing to make an appointment for a Randolph County resident age 80 or older may call 304-636-4764, but Ward noted that appointment times for Friday and Saturday are already filling up.

A Randolph-Elkins Health Department press release last week stated, “This first offering for senior citizens will be by appointment only and will target those who are able to get to the site on their own. They must also allow for 30 minutes observation after receiving vaccination and be able to return in 4 weeks for their second dose. There will be no charge for vaccination.

“Vaccinations will be administered by Randolph-Elkins Health Department but the schedule will be maintained by the Senior Center. Please do not call the health department for an appointment.”

A new press release from the Randolph-Elkins Health Department states, “The Randolph-Elkins Health Department has no advance knowledge of when or how much COVID-19 vaccine will be available, or for which target groups it will be intended. This is generally true for the hospital and clinics in Randolph County.

“This is not really a failing of the system but reflects the attempt at all levels to move things as quickly as possible to serve those who need and want to be vaccinated.

“Some things to remember:

“While federal, state and local agencies involved in getting vaccines out to people, all are working on the project at the same time — therefore,

“Information comes out to the locals piecemeal – as it is figured out at the top – daily, sometime hourly;

“Vaccines arrive at local agencies in small quantities — and for designated target groups;

“Agencies are not waiting until there is enough to go around but are working with what is available;

“Locals have no input about which groups should be prioritized — sometimes, even the state does not have that decision-making power;

“So far, vaccine shipments have been smaller than predicted;

“The state has contracted with providers other than the hospital and the health department to vaccinate different target groups of frontline workers and some citizens;

“The health department does not have input regarding these decisions and often does not even know who and when this will be done;

“Sadly, there are no lists for people waiting to be vaccinated — no matter what the circumstances.

“The vaccination campaign for COVID-19 is different than any undertaken before. Because of the precautions that are recommended/required, it is impossible to simply receive a large quantity of vaccine and have people line up in a big room, get their shot and go on their way. Distance must be maintained, specific information must be gathered, and recipients must be observed for a few minutes after vaccinations to watch for adverse reactions — few have been seen but still we watch. These are some of the reasons we must work with small groups and appointments only.

“All entities and agencies involved in this COVID-19 vaccination process really are doing their best. We ask for patience and support from other facilities and from Randolph County citizens. It is of little comfort to know vaccine will be available eventually, but it is truly the best any of us can do. We will share information as it is received. Thank you.”

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