Ohio and Kanawha County health officials reflect on pandemic a year after receiving vaccine shipments
WHEELS, W.Va. – Howard Gamble, the administrator of the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department believed his county, state and country would be able to manage cases of COVID-19 rather than continue to respond to a pandemic and to offer daily vaccination centers, one year after receiving vaccine doses.
West Virginia hubs received the first shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from mid-December to the end of December. For Ohio County, Gamble said the county received vaccines on December 16, 2020 to begin administering to frontline workers and then to long-term care facilities.
He told MetroNews that 12 months after the start of a pandemic with a vaccine available, free and easy to access, he believed he would be more under control.
“I would have thought that over the summer we would have completed our permanent vaccination clinics for the community. And at that point, I would have thought about how we would incorporate this vaccine into a regular treatment schedule, ”Gamble told MetroNews.
Gamble said the end of the pandemic will come down to vaccination rates, which slowed significantly towards the end of 2021.
“We’re seated at about 70% of eligible people having at least one dose in Ohio County. In this county, to be able to manage this like a disease, because ‘yes it is happening but we can handle it’ we have to hit the 80% mark, ”Gamble said.
The latest figures from the State Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) confirmed that 70.1% of the eligible Ohio County population aged 5 and older have received a vaccine. This number increases by 76% among those aged 18 and over, and by 97.5% among those aged 65 and over.
The last weekly report from the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department show 170 new confirmed cases from Dec. 12-19.
Gamble said that while the vaccine cannot completely prevent someone from contracting COVID-19, it can prevent a person from becoming very sick. DHHR’s COVID-19 dashboard shows that 0.047% of fully vaccinated people died from the virus in the state and 3.06% of fully vaccinated people developed the virus.
He continued to urge individuals to get vaccinated, particularly during the holidays with larger gatherings and the anticipated spread of the omicron variant.
“It’s not about the individual, it’s about family, friends, coworkers and the people who can’t get it and can’t afford to get sick,” Gamble said. .
Gamble noted early indications that omicron may have milder effects. But Gamble has always urged caution. “It’s very early, and it can lead to more problems,” he said. There have been three confirmed cases of omicron in West Virginia.
In Kanawha County, Dr Sherri Young, Acting Executive Director and Health Officer of Kanawha Charleston Health Department (KCHD) also anticipates an increase in cases due to the holidays and the spread of omicron.
Young County saw 73.8% of the population aged 5 and over receive a dose of the vaccine. Almost 80% of county residents aged 18 and over have been vaccinated and 95% of county residents aged 65 and over have been vaccinated with at least one dose, according to DHHR dashboard.
Yet for Young, like Gamble, those numbers are not high enough to curb the pandemic. It’s certainly not high enough for Young where she thought the numbers would be a year away from state receiving a vaccine.
Young said she remembered December 15, 2020, the day the county received its first doses of Pfizer to be allocated to frontline workers. That day the county received 20-30 shots and when doses of Modera, Johnson & Johnson and other doses of Pfizer arrived, the KCHD extended its vaccination efforts to mass clinics at the Charleston Coliseum. and Convention which attracted national media attention.
“I imagined that maybe we wouldn’t be completely done a year later. Either we could tackle it one way or another with possibly a booster shot and maybe breakthrough cases. But I never imagined that we were going to exceed the number of hospitalizations and have so many complicated issues a year later, ”Young told MetroNews.
The DHHR identified 580 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in its latest report two days before Christmas. While that figure is more than 400 below the pandemic’s peak of over 1,000 at the end of September, it is far more than the summer 2021 pandemic lows of less than 100.
Young noted that the distribution of the numbers of hospitalizations, those in intensive care and those dying from the virus between vaccinated and unvaccinated should be enough to make people want to be vaccinated.
“Yes, we are still in a COVID-19 pandemic despite the vaccine, but when we look at the poor results of being in the hospital, the hospitals being overrun, having poor results with long term side effects, y including death, it’s clear the vaccine works, ”Young said.
Young said she believes higher vaccination rates, learning about the impact of antibodies and antibody clinics, and dispensing oral COVID-19 drugs can go a long way in ending the condition. COVID-19 pandemic.
She praised the work her staff at KCHD did 12 months after receiving their first doses. KCHD organized large-scale immunization clinics for 17 consecutive Saturdays.
KCHD is organizing a drive-through clinic for vaccinations and tests this Wednesday at the health service from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.