Health official says the incoming workload with the next phases of vaccine distribution is concerning

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 11:01 PM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The race to vaccinate is on and the Marietta Belpre Health Department is about to enter into the next level of difficulty.

So far, the department has focused on front-line workers and people living and working in congregate care settings like group homes. Next week, however, they’ll hit the ground running with phase 1B of distribution.

Still, this doesn’t mean they’ll be done with phase 1A.

The health department’s commissioner Anne Goon said, “We know that we will not be done with phase 1A throughout the state so we’ll sort of be duplicating or doubling our efforts um because we’ll be doing the second dose for those that are in phase 1A. There’s still some phase 1A people that haven’t been done yet and then we’ll start doing those in phase 1B starting with those who are 80 and over.”

That start will take place next week. The week after that will focus on those 75 and older and the process will repeat, going five years younger each week, until they hit 65.

Workload is an area of concern.

Goon said, “We’re all still trying to do case investigation and contact tracing because we still have cases happening, you know, in the state. So we’re still trying to do that part of our job anyways and now we’re adding the responsibility for giving vaccinations to the exact same staff. I mean, these are nursing staff who are doing both of these functions.”

She said it will come down to finding a balance with getting vaccines out but also not overworking the nurses.

A unique challenge with the Covid pandemic is the nature in which vaccinations must be carried out due to social-distancing.

Goon explained, “..., I was in a health department in a similar role as a health commissioner when we had H1N1. The difference though, between this and H1N1, is here you can’t do mass vaccinations as in you can’t bring in a great big crowd of people together in one building or one facility or one room and just one-two-three-four move them really fast.”

Another piece of this puzzle is that not all healthcare workers offered the vaccine are taking it.

Goon said, “You know it’s sort of discouraging when you know everyone’s been saying ‘oh we got to get this vaccine we got to get this vaccine’ then, if they’re not willing to take it, it really doesn’t help...,”

Still, not every part of the vaccine process is an area of concern. Anne Goon reported that, so far, no one has had a severe reaction.

“I mean, you get the typical things you get when you get any immunization of some sort. You know, you get - your arm’s sore, maybe it’s stiff, or maybe it gets a little hot. You know, those are the kinds of things that we’re seeing. We’re not seeing people have an anaphylactic reaction. I’m not saying those don’t happen. They very well can happen and that’s why we always go prepared.”

If you are legally allowed to register shots and are interested in helping with the vaccine process, contact your local health department, Anne Goon suggested.

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