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Delivering Life

National Guard, health workers handling vaccine

Just imagine, if you can, the feeling West Virginia National Guard soldiers fanning out throughout the state may have this week. Monday night, they began delivering life itself to their older Mountain State neighbors.

It comes in the form of vaccine against COVID-19. Among those at the very top of the priority list for immunization are residents and staffs in West Virginia nursing homes and other long-term care centers. They, along with health care professionals including those in hospitals, will be first to receive shots from the state’s limited allocation of Pfizer vaccine.

State officials planned to begin sending the vaccine to pharmacies Monday night. Personnel from there will go to nursing homes to administer the shots. They, too, will know that beyond any reasonable doubt, they are saving lives.

We know that because of the horror COVID-19 already has inflicted upon nursing home residents in both West Virginia and Ohio. Here in the Mountain State, 978 people had been killed by the virus by Monday afternoon. The state’s website, last updated Friday evening, listed 357 fatalities at long-term care centers.

Also as of Friday, just 15 nursing homes in West Virginia were not experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. All the rest were battling the disease.

We are not aware of vaccination schedules for most other states, of course. It appears the emphasis nationwide is on critical health care providers — the people who may have to care for us if we contract COVID-19. That is appropriate.

But here in West Virginia, the decision to bump nursing home residents and staffers up to near the top of the vaccination schedule was absolutely the right thing to do.

It means, again, that the National Guard soldiers delivering the vaccine and the pharmacy personnel administering it really are saving lives — quite likely, scores of them.

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